December marks the three year anniversary of the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act, and agencies finally have a measure from the Office of Personnel Management on how the law has affected telework programs and participation across the federal government.
OPM on Wednesday released the 2013 Status of Telework in the Federal Government report, which found that 47 percent of federal employees were deemed eligible to telework in 2012, up from 32 percent in 2011. Agencies also increased the number of telework agreements in 2012 by 84 percent to 267,227, up from 144,851 in 2011, OPM found.
The report, which compared telework participation at 90 agencies in September 2011 and September 2012, found an additional 40,649 employees, or 24 percent, teleworking last year. That translated into 21 percent (209,192) of all eligible federal employees teleworking in September 2012. Throughout fiscal 2012, 30 percent (301,192) of eligible feds teleworked on some level, though the differences may reflect participation in ad hoc or unscheduled telework, OPM noted in the report.
“Ultimately, we want agencies to use telework strategically to drive results: ensuring continuity of operations, reducing management costs, improving our employees’ ability to balance their work and life commitments, and increasing accountability for achieving individual work results,” OPM Director Katherine Archuleta noted in the report. “The report shows that a growing number of agencies do use telework as a strategic tool.”
A greater percentage of federal teleworkers also are doing so more frequently, with 32 percent teleworking three or more days per week in 2012, compared to 27 percent in 2011, OPM found. Seventy-six percent of agencies also reported they have established a formal telework policy pursuant to the 2010 law, up from 70 percent in 2011.
While the Telework Enhancement Act is now three years old, the latest status report is only the second measure of telework progress since the law’s passage. It’s likely the most reliable measure of federal telework thus far, however, as the 2012 report measured progress only months after the deadline for meeting the law’s requirements. The new report also makes it easier to compare where agencies have come, as prior to 2012, agencies were only required to submit telework data to OPM on a voluntary basis.
“The federal government has come a long way since we started in 2005,” said Cindy Auten, general manager of Mobile Work Exchange, in a statement. “OPM’s latest data proves strong interest, momentum and value in these programs.”