Telework is no longer standing on its own but is becoming a part of the broader conversation about mobility, collaboration and innovation.
That’s according to Cindy Auten, general manager of Mobile Work Exchange, who told Wired Workplace last week that last month’s spring Telework Town Hall Meeting was evidence that telework is becoming part of a broader effort to mobilize and transform the federal workplace. From open workplace plans like the General Services Administration’s new 1800 F Street headquarters to agency adoption of cloud first policy mandates, the federal workplace is becoming more mobile, innovative and collaborative, she said.
Proof of that positive progress on telework and mobility is the rapid surge in participants in Mobile Work Exchange’s annual Telework Week event, which ran March 3-7. More than 163,000 workers -- 94 percent of whom were federal employees -- pledged to telework during this year’s event, which is more than four times the number of pledges during the event’s inaugural year in 2011, she said.
Together, advances in telework, human resources planning, facilities management and IT are transforming the workplace, Auten said. When federal employees who are eligible to telework do so on a regular basis, their time spent in the office changes from a place where they come to work to one where they come to collaborate and share ideas, she said.
“People are very collaborative when they’re at home; they get it done, are very focused and don’t have the distractions of the workplace,” Auten said. “But when they go into the workplace, the best way is to ensure employees can collaborate, share ideas, mingle and use that space time to the [agency’s] advantage.”
Going forward, trends in telework and mobile work will center around managing mobile devices in the cloud, where employees can store and leverage data anywhere, anytime. On the workforce side, the trend will be examining and training how managers can keep track of and engage their distributed workforce, Auten said.
“It’s interesting being in a meeting with IT stakeholders, and there’s no conversation at all about IT because it’s not necessarily a challenge; the solutions are out there,” Auten said. “The challenge is procuring it, the process to acquire it, but it’s also about the culture change and overcoming a lot of the hurdles in training and development.”
Those are areas where Mobile Work Exchange will be focusing much of its research in the coming year, from examining the types of mobile devices federal employees are using to exploring best practices in mobile work at the federal, state and local levels, Auten said.
“Telework has shown, from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, that it does work,” Auten said. “It was the only [question on the survey] in the last three years that showed upward mobility. There’s something to be said about that.”