A new report concluded that 78 percent of participants in an event designed to encourage telework in Virginia said they did not encounter any problems during the experience.
Telework Day, an Aug. 3 event sponsored by the Telework Exchange and the Commonwealth of Virginia, drew 4,267 participants, more than 4,000 of whom were federal, state or private sector employees. While event planners and observers were not surprised by the event's success, they argued that such regular experiments are valuable tools in helping to break down the psychological barriers against telework. The Telework Exchange released the report.
Cindy Auten, the Telework Exchange's general manager, said the event provided low-risk opportunities for organizations to experiment with allowing their employees to work remotely. Managers could experience supervising employees working outside the office without committing to long-term telecommuting agreements. And organizations could determine during the experiment how well their servers performed under greater demand for off-site connections.
According to the report, 22 percent of event participants had not previously teleworked, while 25 percent had worked remotely on occasion.
While an overwhelming majority of participants reported no problems during the telework experiment, one respondent who teleworks regularly said her employer's computer networks were strained by the increased demand for access. "Telecommuting day was really, really slow," the respondent told the Telework Exchange.
Ninety-one percent of the event's participants said their experience made them more apt to work remotely in the future. John Palguta, vice president for policy at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, said while telework could be implemented successfully, experiments like Telework Day could help remove cultural barriers that prevent more people and agencies from adopting it.
"When I was back in government, the toughest part was always getting somebody to go out there and be among the first," Palguta said. "The odds are, if you can get some people to try it who haven't done it before, my prediction is a majority of people will like it, and managers who have been reluctant will discover that things don't fall apart."