More than 109,000 people have pledged to stay home this week. It's all part of National Telework Week. The 3rd annual experiment allows agencies to test telework strategies for one week.
Dan Kent is the Federal CTO and Director of Solutions at Cisco. He told me that Telework Week is growing, already this year's pledges outnumber last year by 30,000.
Why Telework - Individual?
- "From the individual perspective you don't have to sit in traffic. There is an instant ability to help your work-life balance. We have found through tests and at Cisco a lot of productivity enhancements for people that telework. One study showed that 60% of the time people save by not commuting they spend doing work. So you have increased productivity," said Kent.
- "The flexibility to come in and out attracts different types of workers, especially people with children. The ability to flex my hours allows me for example to be at my kids soccer practice or drop them off at school," said Kent.
Why Telework - Agencies?
- "A systematic telework program allows agencies to reduce their real-estate costs. In the private sector we've seen companies save a lot of money by having people telework half a week and share a workspace. A building that would traditionally support 1,000 people could support 1,400 with telework," said Kent.
- "It is good for the environment because you save on heat, electricity etc," said Kent.
Who Can Telework?
- "Part of the agreement that was passed last year forces agencies to define people as part of their telework policy. Agencies have to let them know there's a telework program and offer education to go along with it. Roughly 50% of the workforce is eligible for telework," said Kent.
Tracking the Teleworker?
"In order for telework to work you have to track employees. You then have to compare them to their non-teleworking peers. You have to ask, are the tools allowing teleworkers to have the same relationship with their managers? It's not just something you throw out there and say have at it You have to go back and check in," said Kent.
"First line managers in the federal government are afraid of telework week because they are afraid of change. So this short week is a good stress test for agencies. When they see how it can be successful, those front line managers will become telework leaders and change agents," said Kent.
Relationship to the Digital Government Strategy?
- "The Digital Government Strategy is taking telework to the next step. When you go to that level it requires a mobile device of some sort. Most people in government are very concerned about privacy and security of that device. So full implementation is down the road a bit. But telework is a step in that path. Telework gives then the 1st 10 mines on that BYOD journey," said Kent.
- "Telework typically doesn't equate to the tablet that can go anywhere, anytime," said Kent.
- "We've seen at Cisco that our younger employees want to work on devices they know how to work. So if you're giving them a desktop and saying come on into the office 5 days a week from 8am-5pm, that's not what they are use to. They want to be mobile," said Kent.
Yahoo has decided to outlaw telework for the time being. "I don't see this decision having an impact on the wider telework community. 90% of us at Cisco telework from 1 day a week to full time. So we couldn't go back," said Kent.
Check out the GovLoop Telework Calculator.
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