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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?

  • Bob V.

    What do you believe is the biggest hindrance preventing you from successfully teleworking?I do telework 2 days per week and would like more. But having had to really fight to gain this right over the past decade, I see the biggest hindrances preventing others from successfully teleworking as follows: 1) managers and other upper management’s insecurity in permitting workers to telework, including a fear of a loss of control over workers’ schedules, workflow, and supervision; 2) fear of letting go of an old school attitude, long held since the industrial revolution (more than 120 years), by many people (both management and non-management) that they must get up each morning and drive into an office to see and be seen, and thereby partake in the all important office politics which can lead to promotion and advancement. Personally, I will trade those fears and concerns any day that I can avoid sitting in traffic for 2 to 3 hours on my roundtrip to the office. 

    • LisaB

      I completely agree with you Bob. The problems remaining with any kind of telework is an overly heavy focus on technology and a lack of focus on new expectations and improved training for managers at all levels. Our current employment systems are all concentrated around monitoring and management. Successful telework requires new systems built on a basis of trust between the employee and the manager. 

  • arie l

    I think that managers should be mandated to provide a reasonable reason why someone cannot telework if their position is eligible.  If a manager is not a fan of telework, that should not be an acceptable reason.  Most of the management in my agency is SO old school, and it is VERY frustrating!