Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced a telework initiative for gubernatorial appointees, which includes about 120 employees in the Cabinet and Governor's Office. Kaine also announced an improved state telework policy -- published late last week -- directing all state agencies to consider ways to improve and expand agency telework and alternate work schedule programs.
"Rising fuel prices, the escalating cost of commuting to work, worsening traffic congestion and reduced air quality compel a change in the business culture of state agencies," Kaine said. "Telework reduces energy consumption, both in the amount of gasoline used for daily commuting and in office building energy costs. This policy provides a timely opportunity to create a culture of conservation within the state workforce, which can serve as an example for Virginia businesses in the private sector."
More than four dozen employees of the Cabinet and Governor's Office have already started teleworking or utilizing alternative schedules for part of their work week. State telework programs require employees to sign an agreement with their supervisor that details the terms and conditions of an employee's work away from the central workplace.
Telework promotes general work efficiencies by permitting employees to work at alternate work locations for all or part of their work week. The American Electronics Association reported that a number of companies have also reported productivity gains. IBM reported a 10 to 20 percent increase among teleworkers. AT&T and Cisco Systems saw similar results. Teleworkers at American Express handled 26 percent more calls and produced 43 percent more business than office-based workers. Survey results attribute the gains to fewer distractions, time gained through reduced commutes, and a healthier life-work balance.
Telework also helps improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion, and reduce energy consumption, both in the amount of gasoline used for daily commuting and in office building energy costs.
For example, the Department of Taxation, which has 591 teleworking employees, estimates that more than 45,000 gallons of fuel are saved annually through its telework program. Nearly 23,000 state employees are eligible to telework based on the nature of their work. Approximately 5,000 state employees are already engaged in telework. Nearly 24,000 state employees are eligible to work an alternate schedule, including a 10-hour day, four-day work week. About 14,000 state employees work some type of alternate schedule.
Governor Kaine is also asking state agencies to work with their employees to encourage use of alternate transportation. A recent survey indicated 16,218 of Virginia's approximately 95,000 state employees use some form of alternate transportation - public transportation, van pools, car pools, even bicycles - to commute to work.
In September, 2006, Governor Kaine signed Executive Order 35, establishing the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance reporting to the Secretary of Technology. The Governor called for 20 percent of eligible Virginia state workers to telework by 2010. By July, 2008, more than 22 percent of the eligible workforce participated in telework, exceeding the Governor's goal.
Through the initiative announced today, the Governor aims to increase the percentage of the eligible workforce teleworking even futher. To support agency implementation, the Office of Telework released a "Telework Roadmap" in February, 2008, as a comprehensive resource for both employees and managers. A copy is available at www.otpba.vi.virginia.gov.
The General Assembly this year codified the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance in the office of the Secretary of Technology. The office is to encourage telework as a family-friendly, business-friendly public policy that promotes workplace efficiency and reduces strain on transportation infrastructure.