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Patent and Trademark Office Does Telework Right – Can Your Agency Copy It? – Telework Week

All week the DorobekINSIDER will be talking telework. Last month Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer outlawed telework at her company. The reaction to the news was swift on both sides. With some opponents calling the decision an attack on working mothers or a real push for innovation.

But Tom Fox says telework shouldn’t be a black and white situation. Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. He told Chris Dorobek that telework has made a substantial cost savings difference for the Patent and Trademark Office.

“I think telework will continue to be an inevitability in government. When you factor in the tight budget pressures the government is under, that translates to real estate,” said Fox. “I suspect telework is here to stay. But what leaders need to focus on is the effective use of telework. In the government’s rush to implement telework policies the effectiveness has gone by the wayside.”

Patent and Trademark Example

“It would be wise for government leaders across the government to look at the Patent and Trademark Office. 82% of their employee telework. At PTO they found that some of their best employees were located in places that if they were forced to relocate simply wouldn’t work for the agency,” said Fox.

PTO consistently ranks as one of the top agencies to work for.

Can Innovation Exist for Teleworkers?

“That’s a legitimate question. I had a conversation with a federal employee last week you asked me, ‘how do you create a culture of innovation when we never actually share physical space?’ This is when it really requires the greatest amount of creativity among the leader of a team to make sure everyone is engaging with one another,” said Fox.

  • Use the agencies existing technology to create communications. Google+ hangouts give people a greater sense of camaraderie.
  • Find times when you know you will be co-located, like at a conference or an agency-wide meeting to meet up face to face.
  • Create weekly/daily team meetings over teleconference or virtual meetup.
  • Set aside time for just watercooler esq talks.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Enlist other team members to help create new techniques because it is unlikely you will have the right answers.

Not an And/Or Situation

“You have to forget about the old way of doing things. We all fall into traps where we think of everything as an either or proposition where folks have successfully navigated a successful change they’ve replaced the or with an and. So say we will telework AND we will create a culture of innovation,” said Fox.

Why Is Telework Necessary for Gov?

  1. Have to think of the cost of real estate. Save money by sharing space.
  2. In order to recruit the best you have to hire people that aren’t local. Sometimes they won’t be willing to move.

You can find all our telework week stories by searching key word: Telework Week.

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