Telework in the Government: Not Just for Businesses

May 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

            A few weeks ago, you’ll remember we spoke about the relatively new phenomenon that has hit North America, teleworking. If this is your first time reading, telework is the practice of working remotely from home, as opposed to from a corporate office or cubical. The benefits of this are quite astounding, ranging from more raising employee motivation and increasing productivity to saving the company millions in expenses. You can read more about it in our previous post here.
Jumping on the Telework Bandwagon
Teleworking like the best of us
            You would have expected other companies to have been the first to embrace this new method of work. Maybe one here and one there, first testing the waters to see how well it would work in the general system. But believe it or not, it wasn’t businesses who took to it: it was the government. Already passed by the US Senate, the US House of Representatives accepted and passed it with a vote of 254 to 152, allowing a much greater number of government employees to telework. The legislation creates a policy framework and set of procedures in order to begin teleworking, as opposed to prior, where teleworking was something difficult and near impossible to achieve, causing less than 10% of the employees to participate. Yet just from these low numbers, the Office of Personnel Management estimated it saved roughly $30 million a day on expenses. Not only that, but the Parent and Trademark office estimated they too were able to save $1.5 million a year through avoided rent expenses.
How Does It Work?
            What the bill does is have government agencies decide which employees are eligible for telework. Those who are eligible would be required to complete training programs before signing telework agreements with the agency. As well, much like a company, not all government employees would be eligible for telework, for obvious reasons. The restrictions that limit those who can participate in teleworking are comprised of 3 simple rules: those who have been officially disciplined for “being absent without permission for more than 5 days in any calendar year”, those who have been officially disciplined for “viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography…on a Federal Government computer”, and, for obvious reasons, those whose job requires an on-site presence to accomplish, such as law enforcement officers, park rangers, air traffic controllers, etc.
Only a Matter of Time
            When the government has acted before the companies, you know somebody is behind. Companies are still slowly getting into the business of having their employees telework for fears of loss of productivity, despite the numbers to prove otherwise. Still remaining in an old train of thought, they believe that the best work is office work and work from home is simply unproductive work. So they turn to software such as WorkMeter, that allows them to monitor their employee’s productivity and gives them a chance to see with their own eyes just how effective teleworking is.

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