Telework Participation Skyrockets, Meets Less Management Resistance

Agencies may be more accepting because they're better able to track the return on investment.

Mobile Work Exchange on Tuesday unveiled the impact of more than 136,000 employees worldwide who teleworked one week in March.

This year’s Telework Week, which ran March 4-8, drew 136,093 total pledges, a growth of 91 percent over 2012 and nearly 3.5 times the number of pledges in 2011.  Mobile Work Exchange compared that growth to the first two years of iPhone sales.  

In addition, 112,003, or 82 percent, of pledges came from federal employees, marking a 66 percent increase in participation over 2012 levels. Eighty-seven percent of feds were engaged in a formal telework program prior to Telework Week, up from 69 percent in 2012, and 81 percent of feds said they did not encounter any challenges related to telework during the weeklong event.

“We had participants from about 200 agencies, so it was very widespread,” said Cindy Auten, general manager of Mobile Work Exchange. “That’s really positive, as it’s not just a few agencies with great results; it’s agencies across the board.”

The results also suggest that telework is garnering much more support from leaders and managers. For example, 66 percent of participants noted that their management team is more open to and encouraging of telework today versus one year ago, up from 62 percent in 2012. Mobile Work Exchange noted that agencies may be more accepting of telework because they're better able to track its return on investment.

In addition, nearly three out of four employees reported they are more productive when teleworking. What's more, all managers agreed that employees were at least as productive teleworking as they are in the office. For example, 52 percent of managers said employees were more productive, while 48 percent said employees were equally as productive. No organizations reported that employees were less productive.

Interestingly, employees are putting a high value on telework, with 16 percent saying they would not consider a job without telework and two out of three saying they will give preference to positions that offer telework. Eighty-four percent said they are more likely to telework in the future.

“It was really interesting to see the increase in how telework plays in looking at job selection,” Auten said. “If you’re the federal government and not able to provide pay raises or some of the other things that allow you to compete with the private sector, this is a great way for you to keep top of mind with your workforce management strategy.”