Telework Act of 2010 into law, giving 1.2 million federal workers the option to telecommute for at least part of their week.This week President Obama signed the
It Brings Federal Government in Line With Private Industry
Up to now, the decision to allow teleworking has been a per-agency decision. And most federal agencies have typically purchased desktops instead of laptops and required all workers to come into the office in order to work. This is in stark contrast to the way work is increasingly being done in private companies.
Today, with national unemployment around 10%, it's an employer's market. However, according to Ballard both private and public organizations still compete for top-flight talent. And with nearly half of federal employees nearing retirement (some of whom will be forced to retire due to mandatory retirement ages), the federal government will need to aggressively hire younger workers.
One needn't be a millennial to appreciate the advantages of a flexible work schedule and the ability to telework but Ballard points out that workers entering the workforce in the coming years will expect telecommuting to be an option.
Although I've questioned the impact telework can have on individuals due to increased pressures to work more, Ballard says the American Federation of Government Employees supports the measure. You can find the AFGE's statement on the Telework Act here.
Telecommuting Cuts Down Actual Commuting
Workers in the U.S. spend over 100 hours per year commuting according to a 2005 report by the Census Bureau, "This exceeds the two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) frequently taken by workers over the course of a year." According to the late Senator Ted Stevens, the average federal worker commutes 250 hours per year.
Obviously, telecommuting cuts down the amount of time spent commuting. Not only does this free up more time for employees, but it also reduces an organization's environmental impact.
Telework Reduces Costs, Increases Productivity
One of the few federal agencies to adopt telecommuting is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The agency claims that it has seen a 10% increase in productivity since it started allowing telecommuting 13 years ago, Ballard says (if this surprises you, check out our round-up of videos on improving work).
Meanwhile, having few people in offices allows organizations to save money on real estate. The Obama administration wants to save $8 billion in real estate costs by $2012. Telework will likely be a part of that initiative.
Photo by Richard