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Telework Report Expected Soon

The General Services Administration is studying the barriers to telecommuting.

by / April 19, 2002
The new General Services Administration (GSA) teleworking report due in April is now in the final stages of internal review according to GSA spokesperson, Eleni Martin.

Consultants working on the report say that it will focus in part on the technical barriers to telework and it will offer GSA suggestions on how these barriers can be overcome. Some of problems the report is expected to deal with include the difficulty migrating enterprise-wide applications to notebooks, the lack of security at home offices or teleworking centers, and the general lack of technical support in remote offices.

As of October 2001, federal agencies reported 74,487 telecommuters to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - only 4.4 percent of the more than 1.7 million employees at 63 agencies. That is far below the 20 percent telecommuting rate in the U.S. private sector measured by the International Telework Association and Council.

Many federal managers have been reluctant to embrace telecommuting, according to the OPM. Management concerns frequently voiced include getting agency work done with fewer workers in the main office and protecting the security of government records at alternative work sites. There is also an increased financial burden for employees who have a desk in the office, but also need separate equipment to work from home or a telework center.

Management resistance to telecommuting also arises because managers often feel they would no longer be in a position to monitor employees directly. However, this is easily overcome if managers shift their focus from process-oriented performance measurement to results-driven measurements.

A study completed by the International Telework Association & Council (ITAC) last year found that, in the private sector, more than two-thirds of teleworkers express greater job satisfaction. An overwhelming majority (almost 80%) feels a greater commitment to their organization. And almost three-quarters of at-home teleworkers reported a major increase in productivity and work quality.

The GSA now sponsors fifteen telework (telecommuting) centers in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area. These centers not only facilitate telework but also provide agencies with an effective means for distributing their workforces to enhance homeland security and continue government operations during emergency situations.

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Blake Harris Editor
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