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Posted on: Monday 10/10/2011 3:07pm
"The department has made a strategic effort to support the mobile workforce of tomorrow and identify the right skills, processes, and technologies needed to support them," said Owen Unangst, director of enterprise network services for USDA, in a new case study by the Telework Exchange.
USDA updated its telework policy to meet the requirements laid out in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The policy now includes a new telework agreement form. The agency also developed a technical desk guide for teleworkers, which includes information on using wireless and Wi-Fi connections, as well as a new interactive training program.
According to the case study, the agency is also building an automated telework management system that will "track and report telework agreements, types of arrangements, and other important statistics relative to telework eligibility and participation. It also will offer a self-service portal for workers and managers to request, approve, and track telework agreements and enable reporting on eligibility and participation levels."
USDA estimates its telework program could save it more than $250 million per year.
Despite the results of the case study, only 37.7 percent of USDA employees said they have been notified that they are eligible to telework, according to the latest Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The agency's average is still better than the government as a whole - only 27.2 percent of all government employees said they've been notified of their telework status.
Posted on: Monday 10/3/2011 10:13am
Federal employees were asked two questions related to telework as part of the survey. First, feds were asked whether they have been notified that they are eligible to telework. (All federal employees were supposed to be told of their telework status by June 7.) Second, employees were asked to pick from a list of choices the response that best described their telework situation. Two of those choices included:
6.8 percent of all government employees said they do not telework because of technical issues. When broken down by agency, more Social Security Administration employees listed this as the reason for not teleworking than any other agency.
Posted on: Sunday 9/25/2011 8:46pm
The survey results also determined that only two percent of feds telework three days a week or more, six percent telework one to two days per week, three percent telework one to two days a month, and nine percent telework infrequently and on an unscheduled or short-term basis.
Over 25 percent don't telework because they weren't given permission to do so, even though they have the types of jobs where they could telework. 35 percent don't telework because they have to be physically present at their worksites. Another 12 percent don't telework because they don't want to, while technical issues prevent another seven percent from teleworking.
Over 38 percent were either very satisfied or satisfied with their agency's telework program. Data was not made available to crosstab the number of feds who are eligible to telework with those that responded positively to their agency's telework policy.
266,000 federal employees were surveyed by OPM. The above percentages were based on OPM's weighted survey results.
Posted on: Sunday 9/18/2011 9:30pm
Much of the work to build the new site was done at Federal News Radio's offices in D.C. but employees were also able to work on the project from home - and many took advantage of that flexibility throughout the nine-month process.
Federal News Radio's IT team allows remote access to the site's content management system (where the site is built) via a password-protected url. Employees can access the back-end of the site at any time from this link. In the days leading up to the launch of the new website, employees were working around the clock to make sure it launched on schedule. Remote access to the CMS allowed team members to complete much of this work from home.
Federal News Radio also used a web-based management system to track the various tasks associated with the redesign. The system was accessible from anywhere and allowed team members to update each other in real-time on the status of their individual assignments. The system was especially useful in keeping the members of the development team that live outside of the D.C. region up to speed on the project.
While telework brought flexibility to the project, in-person collaboration was still an integral part of the process. Weekly meetings to discuss progress provided a balance to the work being done remotely. That balance was the key to completing the redesign on time.
Posted on: Sunday 9/11/2011 9:23pm
Younger workers also are more willing to give up more of their salaries for the ability to telework. 15 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds said they would cut their pay by more than 10 percent to telework. Only five percent of those 35 and older said the same.
"The way a majority of corporate America works no longer aligns with the way U.S. families conduct their daily lives," said Allison O'Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps. "Participating in some form of flexible work option allows employees to regain a modicum of work/life balance, and successful companies know that this also can yield a significant return on investment for them."
62 percent of respondents said this kind of flexibility is one of the most important factors when choosing a job. And almost 80 percent of working parents see it as a reason to stay with a company longer.
1,071 working adults were interviewed online for the Mom Corps survey from July 27-29. Working adults were defined as those over 18 that work full or part time.
Posted on: Monday 9/5/2011 2:25pm
The report says about $800 million of that would come in the form of increased productivity from workers. Another $500 million would come from a decrease in absenteeism and turnovers. The Telework Research Network also says the state would save $170 million in real estate costs.
"Telework offers an inexpensive yet powerful solution to many of the state's most vexing problems such as traffic congestion, earthquake preparedness, budget deficits, air quality, and more," said Kate Lister, president of the Telework Research Network. Lister will present a white paper on the potential benefits of using telework in California during the Work Anywhere Symposium being held Sept. 22 in Sacramento.
According to the event's website, the one-day symposium will take a look at best practices in telework from federal and state governments as well as from industry. The event will also examine human capital implications and technology issues that come with telework.
Sharon Wall and Kevin Kelly from the General Services Administration and Mika Cross from the Department of Agriculture are all scheduled to speak at the event.
Posted on: Sunday 8/28/2011 9:24pm
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."
Posted on: Sunday 8/21/2011 3:20pm
According to a recent informal survey by the American Management Association, 86.8 percent of respondents said increased telework training has not been built into their 2012 budgets. Only 4.4 percent of those responding to the survey said their training and development budgets have increased due to the legislation. Another 16.7 percent said they are adding classes to address their telework needs.
"It [telework] requires upfront expenditures to do it right - training the managers, training the employees who'll be teleworking, not to mention the logistics and equipment considerations," said Sam Davis, vice president of AMA's Enterprise Government Solutions in a press release.
According to the latest telework data from the Office of Personnel Management, just under 114,000 federal employees teleworked in 2009.
Telework growth in the federal government continues to outpace the private sector, according to statistics from the Telework Research Network. From 2005-2009 the number of government teleworkers grew by 400 percent, the organization says.
Posted on: Sunday 8/14/2011 5:19pm
The Office of Personnel Management lays out its definition in its "Official Worksite for Location-Based Pay Purposes" document.
- The official worksite for an employee covered by a telework agreement is the location of the regular worksite for the employee's position (i.e., the place where the employee would normally work absent a telework agreement), as long as the employee is scheduled to report physically at least twice each biweekly pay period on a regular and recurring basis to that regular worksite.
- In the case of a telework employee whose work location varies on a recurring basis, the employee need not report at least twice each biweekly pay period to the regular worksite established by the agency as long as the employee is performing work within the same geographic area (established for the purpose of a given pay entitlement) as the employee's regular worksite. For example, if a telework employee with a varying work location works at least twice each biweekly pay period on a regular and recurring basis in the same locality pay area in which the established official worksite is located, the employee need not report at least twice each biweekly pay period to that official worksite to maintain entitlement to the locality payment for that area.
- The official worksite for an employee covered by a telework agreement who is not scheduled to report at least twice each biweekly pay period on a regular and recurring basis to the regular worksite is the location of the telework site (i.e., home, telework center, or other alternative worksite), except in certain temporary situations…
On this last point, FedSmith's Robert Dietrich has a warning for federal employees. In his latest column he writes, "There are a small number of situations where the person's home becomes their ‘official duty station.' … This can present a problem if the person's home is outside the vicinity of their locality pay. Is this person still entitled to the locality pay where their agency is located? The answer is no. They are entitled to the locality pay where their permanent duty station is, as shown on a SF-50, and that could be higher or lower."
Posted on: Monday 8/8/2011 6:09pm
As federal agencies and companies allow more and more people to telework, Ruth questions whether all of them should be eligible. He warns that not all people are made out for teleworking - including those who are easily distracted.
"Telecommuting gains so far have been leveraged through a relatively small number of highly capable people-the work place's most talented and diligent individuals are the ones who are telecommuting 3-5 days per week," Ruth wrote. "As more employees clamor to be added, there may be some new challenges. Is there a limit to telecommuting growth, a level where the practice begins to yield lower returns to the employer?"
Some other potential challenges Ruth sees:
- Time banditry - the idea that employees will engage in more activities that are unrelated to their jobs if they are working outside the office.
- Loneliness - Ruth says working away from the office could have several side effects including a lack of social interaction with coworkers and assumed threats to career advancement.
- Detachment issues - Ruth points to studies that indicate the more someone telecommutes, the more problems they have stepping away from their work at the end of the day. In turn, Ruth says this could lead to an increase in the person's family stress level.
Assuming telecommuters are in the office for at least a few days a week, Ruth also questions whether a teleworker can be as productive in the office as they are outside of it. In addition, Ruth warns of resentment from the workers who are unable to telework.