The Office of Personnel Management’s annual report to congress found that 25 percent, or 168,558, of those eligible to telework did so at least one day a week. That’s up from 10 percent of the eligible workforce in 2009.
The report notes that among those employees who do telework, there’s a relatively even split between teleworking three days a week (27 percent), two days a week (28 percent) and one day a week (25 percent). Several agencies have high rates of telework:
• The Patent and Trademark Office – 82 percent
• The General Services Administration – 59 percent
• The Treasury Department – 48 percent
• The Department of Health and Human Services – 42 percent
• The Education Department – 41 percent
The Telework Enhancement Act of December 2010 requires agencies to take specific steps to increase the number of employees working from outside the office.
The signing of the Act set in motion a transformation of Federal telework that provides a framework of requirements designed to ensure a more systematic implementation of telework in Federal agencies than previously existed and adequate notice to employees of their telework eligibility status.
Satisfying these requirements has meant a fundamental shift in how agency stakeholders view and implement telework –from a strictly individual employee benefit to a strategic organizational change program.
Telework program benefits extend from the individual to larger communities. Telework’s potential to enhance work-life balance for individual employees has been well documented. Implemented widely across agencies, telework has the potential to improve quality of life for communities, for example, by reducing traffic congestion and pollution. Increasingly, however, the potential for agency benefits drives telework implementation.
1. Aligned with agency strategy and mission, telework supports achievement of objectives increasingly important for operation of an efficient and effective Federal Government, including cost savings and improved performance, and maximizing organizational productivity.
2. Developed as a strategic program, telework is a powerful agency recruitment and retention tool with the capacity to improve the competitive position of the Federal Government for recruiting and retaining the best possible workforce.
3. Leveraged as a management tool, telework mitigates potential disruptions to workplace productivity (e.g., severe weather).
The history and statutory framework for establishing telework began more than a decade ago as an effort to address transportation concerns and grew into an important flexible work arrangement and a powerful recruitment and retention tool for the Federal Government. .
Over the years, telework has continued to receive attention due to its potential to improve employee morale, enhance work-life balance for employees, improve the competitive position of the federal government for recruiting and retaining the best and brightest workforce, increase federal agency capacity to achieve mission and operational goals, and maximize organizational productivity.
In recent years, the focus has expanded to view telework as a strategic management tool for coping with potential disruptions in the workplace due to severe weather or other emergencies, and as a recruitment tool to increase access to talent pools.
What seems clear is that telework will continue to receive attention within the Federal Government as a human capital strategic tool that provides a number of important benefits and flexibilities to organizations and employees alike.
In accordance with the the Telework Enhancement Act, OPM works with executive agencies to issue an annual report to Congress. This report provides information about the overall number of participating teleworkers in the Federal Government as reported by the agencies.
The report stated that OPM will continue to work in a consultative capacity with agencies to facilitate continuous telework program improvement, advancement of programs, and interagency learning. The focus in 2012-2013 will continue to be on goal-setting, goal measurement, and evaluation.
For more information, Federal Employees can visit www.Telework.Gov
Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who currently works as a professional writer, blogger, social media expert, commentator, editor and public affairs practitioner. Diana previously worked as an editor and senior communications analyst for the Department of Defense.