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Posted on: Monday 1/3/2011 3:30am
In looking at "Six Hot Workplace Trends for 2011, cio.com notes going mobile is one of the "technology-centered work trends for the coming year that every company and employee needs to know about."
That mobility, said CIO, goes in both directions: more hiring is being done online of more workers who are willing and want to work unleashed from a desktop and they're better equipped to serve the needs and wants of mobile customers.
It makes an intuitive sort of sense that if you're comfortable with the mobile technology needed to complete your agency's mission, you'll be better equipped to serve a more mobile American public.
In the near future, private sector "companies will be more social networking-minded when selling and marketing their products, utilizing the digital word-of-mouth aspect of Facebook, Twitter and Groupon." The profit-driven private sector wouldn't make those kinds of moves if there wasn't a demand for it in the market, and it's exactly that same market that the public sector serves.
So as telework grows across the federal government, agencies and federal employees will grow better positioned to meet the demands of taxpayers.
The benefits of being part of an effective teleworkforce are growing well beyond not having to commute in bad weather.
Posted on: Monday 12/20/2010 6:29am
Now the heavy lifting begins.
If the act can be considered the marching orders from the White House, that might mean Office of Personnel Director John Berry has become the drum major.
In a memo to heads of Executive departments and agencies, Berry outlined the objectives, what needs to be done "Immediately" and what's expected within 180 days of the enactment.
Immediately, according to the memo, the head of the agency needs to put someone in charge by naming a Telework Managing Officer (TMO), who will have four duties:
- policy development and implementation related to agency telework programs
- advisor to agency leadership
- resource for managers and employees
- primary agency point of contact for OPM on telework matters
Those are the duties, but the objectives, said OPM, are to improve Continuity of Operations, promote management effectiveness and enhance work-life balance.
Posted on: Monday 12/13/2010 12:04pm
Mainstream publication Computerworld notes: "with federal pay freezes looming, there is even more reason for federal employees to telework."
"For federal employees located in the Washington, D.C. area," according to a blog, "missing the stress of a day a week of traffic (the legislation provides for federal employees to telework up to 20% of the time) may be a good tradeoff for a cost of living increase. Throw in commuting savings, car mileage saved, personal time saved, and Federal employees who telework may just be OK without the 1.4% raise in 2011."
Before getting sucked into the pay debate about the "perk of telework," know that there are at least three points the blog doesn't make:
- the proposed pay freeze is for both FY 2011 and FY 2012.
- many feds may not see any change for up to six months. Agencies will have 180 days to establish a policy on working outside the office.
- Many feds start seeing a real cut in pay at the end of the month. Unless Congress approves a separate piece of legislation covering tax-cuts, a $230 transit subsidy for employees who use public transportation drops back to $120 a month effective January first, 2011.
Most importantly, telework in the federal government has consistently been touted as more a path to efficiency, cost savings, and an important part of keeping government running during emergencies, than as a perk for federal employees.
Posted on: Friday 12/3/2010 5:18pm
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the recently passed Telework Enhancement Act (H.R. 1722) "only brings bureaucracy into agencies and doesn't reflect the message voters sent Congress and the president in the recent midterm elections," reports Federal Computer Week.
"This will be the first vote after the American people said no to government waste, fraud and abuse, government growth and government spending," he said.
Issa said the legislation doesn't guard against employees taking advantage of the lack of direct manager oversight and doesn't require agencies to prove how much money they're saving when they let employees work from home.
Additionally, Issa said the Act creates no new teleworking jobs.
Posted on: Monday 11/29/2010 3:00am
In fact, a new study finds working remotely "alleviates more stress than it creates."
The main benefit, according to a press release on the study, "reported by participants who telework at least three days a week is the decreased work-life conflict that a flexible work arrangement allows."
But if teleworking three days a week isn't possible, the study notes many of the benefits could be found in the office if the right strategies are used. Among the suggestions:
- Limiting the number of meetings and mass emails.
- Streamlining office communication by creating a repository of information that can be accessed at any time.
- Designating certain times when, and spaces where, office-based employees can work uninterrupted.
- Creating a supportive climate where employees can register concerns without fear of retaliation.
- Encouraging employees to disconnect from workplace communication when they are finished for the day.
The study, conducted by Kathryn Fonner, UWM assistant professor of communication appears in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research.
Posted on: Monday 11/22/2010 4:33am
What you might not have heard so much about are some of the limitations the act places on telework.
Aside from the obvious jobs like air traffic controllers, most law enforcement and even custodial workers that can't be done at home, there are a few other conditions to teleworking.
First of all, employees have to attend training before being considered to be eligible.
Employees who have been officially disciplined for having five or more unexcused absences a year are blocked from participating in the program.
And then there's the very little discussed porn provision: if an employee has been officially disciplined for "viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while performing official Federal Government duties," there's no telework for them.
It's good to know there are limits.
Posted on: Sunday 11/14/2010 9:46pm
"A large number of futurologists are predicting a fundamental restructuring of labor markets up to the year 2020," writes Electronic Component News. "More flexible working employment relationships," like free-lancing and self-employment will offer opportunities for a flexible workforce, consultant Renate Schuh-Eder told the electronica 2010 trade fair in Munich.
At the same time, said publicist and freelance journalist, Christine Demmer, the new workforce options will mean new challenges for management.
"In view of an increasing number of flexible employment relationships, employers cannot just demand - also on account of the increasing shortage of skilled workers - flexibility from one side. In return, companies must also offer employees incentives to enter into suitable employment relationships. This will also include the creation of an attractive working environment and the willingness to provide flexible offers regarding working hours and telework opportunities."
The key for both sides, it would seem, will be more flexibility in the relationship.
Posted on: Monday 11/8/2010 1:15pm
Home offices are one of the very few features of a home that are growing in popularity, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) "Home Design Trends Survey" for the second quarter of 2010.
Those home theaters, fitness rooms and even home workshops? Out.
Instead, residential architects say there's growing interest in "outside living spaces, home offices and mud rooms - despite the overall trend toward a downsizing of homes," reports Kitchen and Bath Design News.
"As the overall economy has slowed in recent years, home offices have become the new home theaters," AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker told Kitchen and Bath.
High-tech is still popular, but is starting to take a different form. Along with the increased focus on functionality, the 300 residential design professionals said they've also seen a big increase in energy efficient products and design.
Posted on: Monday 11/1/2010 4:42pm
Instead of referring to "teleworkers," Johnson said employees are shifting behavior to be a different type of "mobile worker."
The newer term of art takes the telephone out of the equation just in time to make way for smaller, portable tools of the federal trade.
Whatever the workforce is called, GSA is pleased with results of its pilot program underway in Kansas City.
All 300 employees of the office telework at least one day a week, and 45 employees telework five days a week.
People in the pilot program have told GSA Regional Commissioner of Federal Acquisition Service Michael Brinks that they are sleeping more, exercising more, seeing their families more and feeling less stressed.
"All of that translates into a happy employee, and when you have a happy employee I believe you have a productive employee," Brinks said.
And as for telework centers, not to worry. They won't completely disappear anytime soon. They're just changing with the times as well.
In fact, DISA is now less than a month away from opening a new "classified telework center," believed to be the first of its kind.
Posted on: Monday 10/25/2010 12:25pm
Sandra Gurvis is one of the authors of the "Handbook for Managing Telework" subtitled "A Five-Step Management Process for Managing Teleworkers".
That process, says Gurvis, can be boiled down to:
- Decide if your organization needs telework
- Create a teleworking team
- Create a game plan
- Implementation and
Gurvis says teleworking is "definitely the way of the future, in terms of rush-hour traffic, in terms of the environment, in terms of work-life balance."
For more from the Dorobek Insider report by Jolie Lee, see The 5-step guide to managing teleworkers