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Telework for Gov't Employees Increasing Steadily But Slowly

Telework for Gov't Employees Increasing Steadily But Slowly

Alex M. Parker | Government Executive

September 21, 2009

“The potential benefits of a teleworking workforce are now more important than ever,” Berry wrote. “With the cost of gas again on the rise it has become a critical tool in the struggle to balance stretched family budgets; with the threats of new strains of influenza, it provides an effective resource in the face of possible pandemic; as our nation searches for ways to conserve energy, telework provides a valuable asset toward establishing green workplaces.”

Talk of telework as an emergency preparation tool heated up this spring with the outbreak of the H1N1 flu. As of last year, 44 of the 78 agencies surveyed, or 56 percent, had fully integrated telework into their continuity of operations planning, the report stated.

“I’m overall pleased to see upward progress,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who has sponsored legislation to increase telework. “We have a long way to go toward achieving what I think ought to be the goal.”

Connolly noted the numbers were from 2008 and did not reflect the Obama administration’s commitment to telework. He also pointed out the wide variation in participation rates and the fact that some agencies reported substantial decreases in use of the work arrangement.

“That tells me that this was not a serious program,” Connolly said. “For a program to work, it’s got to be systemic. It’s got to have a champion at the top, and resources have to be devoted to it. It’s got to be written into the management handbook, so that … supervisors and employees understand what is expected of them.”

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