Telework is more than a perk

Sunday - 8/28/2011, 11:51pm EDT

The issue of telework was front and center last week for the federal government. The earthquake and hurricane that struck cities up and down the East Coast brought some of the benefits of telework into the spotlight.

As thousands of D.C. feds struggled to get out of the city Tuesday in the hours after the earthquake, two-thirds of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's employees were already home due to their telework agreements, according to Danette Campbell, the senior advisor on telework at PTO.

"Had all 10,000 employees been on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, it would've been a nightmare going home," Campbell said last week during a FedScoop panel discussion on telework.

In addition to the traffic and environmental benefits of telework, Justin Johnson, the Office of Personnel Management's chief of staff, told the FedScoop audience agencies need to start looking at telework as an asset, not just a perk.

"Until agencies view telework as an asset and realize that they are in a competition for talent, some will surpass others," Johnson said at the event, according to NextGov.

Johnson said he has no doubt the technology aspect behind telework will be reached since money is being put into developing it, but he said the culture around telework must still change at agencies.

"That's what will cause this initiative to rise and fall."