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Telework to Expand for Federal Jobs

Telework to Expand for Federal Jobs

Chris McConnell | GovCentral

Back-to-back snow storms in the Washington, DC area have knocked out the federal government for a record fourth day in a row. The Office of Personnel Management estimates the loss of productivity to be $100 million a day, which many consider a necessary cost to ensure the safety of hundreds of thousands federal, state, and local government employees in the area.

Some have wondered if more robust telework programs, where feds commute to a satellite office closer to their home or use secure technology to access computer networks remotely, could have mitigated this loss in productivity. It may be easy to use snowmaggedon as the latest excuse to the false lazy fed stereotype, but this doesn’t take into account the idea behind telework and the unique challenge it presents for a smooth integration into the federal workplace.

While some managers may prefer this, telework isn’t designed to keep you chained to work, but according to

Telework gives employees more flexibility in meeting personal and professional responsibilities; it can offer freedom from office distractions, reduced work/life stress, and an alternative worksite setup that can be used in case of emergency.

OPM Director John Berry has been actively promoting telework as a way to promote work/life balance, increase employee morale and productivity, while saving taxpayer money.

Poll: Is Telework a good idea to promote work/life balance?

Poll: Is Telework a good idea to promote work/life balance?

In a 2009 report by OPM, seventy-eight federal agencies reported some form of telework policy. Over 102,000 employees participated in these programs in 2008 (the latest reported figures), which comprised only 5.24 percent of the total fed roster. Counting eligible federal employees, the rate of participation rises to 8.67 percent. This is an increase of nearly 9 percent compared to 2007.

The Department of Health and Human Services has the largest telework population, with almost 13,000 employees participating in telework. The highest percentage goes to the National Council on Disability, with all five employees participating!

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of employees telework fairly frequently: between 1-2 days, or more than 3 days per week.

Telework adoption may be rising at a slow and steady pace, but many barriers remain for wider implementation. Among these are concerns about physical office coverage, management resistance, organizational culture, and adequate IT security and funding.

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