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Telework is Growing, But There’s Still Room to Improve

As a long-time teleworker myself, I have seen first-hand that teleworking, under the right circumstances, reaps significant benefits for both the employer and employee. The goal of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 was to redefine the workplace expectations of federal employees, and make those benefits available to more eligible workers.

One year later, we set out to see how successful that act has been in changing teleworking policies and attitudes. The recent FedScoop survey, sponsored by HP and Intel, queried more than 300 IT executives from the federal government and private sector to assess the evolving perspectives and practices of telework in federal, state and local government agencies.

The enthusiasm for teleworking is strong and federal workers are confident that the right technology will help them remain efficient. Ninety-one percent of feds surveyed said they are interested in teleworking, and 61 percent believe that technology can help them fully replace face-to-face meetings.

However, 69 percent of federal employees said the federal government telework progress is not improving rapidly enough. The results found that while 9 in 10 federal managers said that they trust their team to work from a remote location, only 61 percent of respondents said their managers allow them to telework.

Technology is the key player in telework. With the right systems, employees are able to work securely and attend meetings as if they were in the office. Forty-three percent of federal employees surveyed said their agency does not provide them with technology that sufficiently supports teleworking, compared with only 13 percent of private sector respondents. This may reflect the reality that many federal managers may not have made the investment yet in supplying their workforces with the supplies and technology they need to telework. To take the next step, federal managers should invest in technology that has security built into the hardware, firmware and software that works together to address critical aspects of information security.

On the issue of security, 84 percent of federal employees said they are concerned about a cyber-attack on their organization, and 3 in 4 feds believe their network could experience critical failure. While cyber-attacks and network failures are considerable security concerns, an agency without teleworking is an agency unprepared to deal with unscheduled government shutdowns (such as the Washington, D.C., Snowpocalypses of 2010 and 2011).

What do you believe is the biggest hindrance preventing you from successfully teleworking?

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4 Comments

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Profile Photo Peter Sperry

“What do you believe is the biggest hindrance preventing you from successfully teleworking?”

The clause in most agencies telework regulations that employees allow supervisors entry into their homes to “inspect” the alternate work site. While that requirment is in place, I will not telework.

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Profile Photo Terrence Hill

As I sit here teleworking, I can say that there is still a lot of management resistance (mostly from “old-school” traditionalists) that is difficult to overcome, but time will weed out all resistance. The technology issue has pretty much been overcome now that most of us have laptops and blackberries. We can make more progress if we allow employees to use their smart phones and tablets for work. WIth a little encouragement (stipends), we can make this work and save the government money.

@Peter – Change the rules about inspections. This is not part of the Telework Act and is an unnecessary intrusion of privacy.

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Profile Photo Michelle G. Rosenbloom

I agree that cyber security is a legitimate concern, but it should not stand in the way of finding a solution for federal employees to telework. Technology today is so robust that I believe a solution to mobile accessibility in the federal world should be a must.

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Profile Photo Christina Morrison

Michelle – I absolutely agree – HP and others offer a number of mobile solutions that address security concerns to the point where technology shouldn’t be a barrier to teleworking. Peter – I would be surprised if those regulations on teleworking are still in place, and if not, we should report them and have them changed!

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