Agencies Make Telework Week Pledge

Next month marks Telework Exchange's annual Telework Week event, and many agencies are planning to use the event to test their business continuity plans.

Cindy Auten, general manager of Telework Exchange, told Wired Workplace on Friday that more than 9,000 federal employees have pledged to telework during the annual Telework Week, which runs March 5-9.

"Agencies are really getting behind this program to test their business continuity and really understand why it's important to do drills using Telework Week to get more people involved," Auten said. "And I think that this will be a good test for agencies to see how prepared they are without having the next Snowmageddon."

Last year, the Telework Week program had nearly 40,000 pledges, with more than 86 percent of those pledges coming from federal workers. Those workers collectively saved $2.7 million in commuting costs and saved employees an average two hours from their commutes for each day teleworked, according to Telework Exchange estimates.

Auten said a report on the results of this year's Telework Week would be released at the organization's town hall meeting in May. "It will be interesting to compare year over year and see how well agencies have done and how prepared they were," she said. "I think we will see some really good movement between the two years."

Still, Auten said one major challenge for agencies going forward -- particularly for those agencies that recently kicked off their telework programs as a result of the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act -- is quantifying telework's return on investment. Some agencies like the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments -- which were called out in a recent letter to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry for having high numbers of positions deemed ineligible for telework - may have a difficult time beginning to track and provide accurate data, she said.

"Capturing the data is really important and not just necessarily whose teleworking and the frequency but also how telework is coming back to meet the agency mission," Auten said. "Agencies have to quantify the savings, and developing that telework ROI model is going to be very critical."

Going forward, Auten said a major trend for 2012 will be a move to enterprisewide tech solutions for both teleworkers and non-teleworkers, which is part of Federal CIO Steven Van Roekel's new mobility strategy to make agencies more agile and flexible. "The goal is for one enterprisewide solution that can enable the mobile workforce," she said. "So if you use collaborative tools for teleworkers, the people in the office are using the same tools."

Have you made your pledge for this year's Telework Week? If not, click here.