Telework offers real estate savings

Monday - 7/19/2010, 9:40am EDT

Seth Siegel, Technology Strategy and Architecture office, Deloitte Consulting

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Rachel Stevens
Federal News Radio

Across government, agencies are looking for ways to streamline their budgets. Seth Siegel says telework can be a valuable part of this effort.

Siegel leads the Technology Strategy and Architecture office at Deloitte Consulting. His company has been working with the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) on a telework pilot project that lets employees work anywhere, anytime they choose- as long as their work gets done.

He says telework programs like OPM's are important steps towards compliance with President Obama's June memo ordering agencies to shed $3 billion in excess real estate costs.

"If you look at number of offices and cubes that are empty on any given day, you may have up to 60% open office space at any given point in time. So how do you get better leverage of the office space that you own?"

The answer may be telework.

Siegel says his company's research shows that telework programs can create as much as 40% reductions in needed real estate space. And telework employees have been found to be able to work up to 12 hours more per week than a "traditional" employee without compromising work/life balance.

But Siegel recognizes that telework is not without some speed bumps. He admits that some of the savings gained from cutting real estate costs would be absorbed by the cost of purchasing equipment like laptops and smart phones. And training, especially for managers, will be critical.

Still, he says telework is the way of the future. And he advises agencies to get ready now.

"Your choices are either to plan it and execute, or to just have it happen to you," Siegel says.

Rachel Stevens is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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