For one week, March 5-9, 2012, more than 71,000 people experienced what it’s like to roll out of bed, get a cup of coffee and go to work.

What was different about that one week and those 71,000 people than any other week and any other person in America? Well, they didn’t have to leave their homes to go to work.

This past March, the Telework Exchange sponsored Telework Week 2012, their second annual such event designed to encourage agencies, organizations and individuals to telework. The Telework Exchange surveyed more than 71,000 of the individuals who had pledged to telework during the event and compiled what they learned from these surveys into a report that was released earlier this month (official press release is available as a PDF HERE).

What they found out about telework and the benefits that it delivers to employees was quite impressive:

  • Pledges saved a collective $5.6 million in commuting costs
  • Federal pledges avoided driving more than 5.9 million miles
  • Federal pledges eliminated more than 235,000 hours in commuting time
  • 3,022 tons of pollutants were saved from federal pledges teleworking

But the benefits aren’t just for the employees. The employers also see a wide range of positives from enabling and encouraging telework among their workforce.

We’ve talked extensively on Fed UC about how removing employees from the office could save in real estate costs, recurring utility bills and even in office supplies.

However, the Telework Exchange was able to deliver even more evidence that telework provides perks to employers. Most notably, telework has the ability to propel productivity.

According to the report, 71 percent of organizations reported increased productivity (up 11 percent from 2011). Also, 75 percent of participants noted they accomplished more while teleworking.

Aside from making employees happier, increasing productive, and saving some serious cash for employees and employers alike, a more mobile workforce delivers other benefits as well.

Continuity of operations (COOP) is a significant concern for many government agencies and private enterprises. Having a mobile workforce capable of working anywhere can help ensure that the organization doesn’t grind to a halt due to bad weather, flu epidemic or other event that makes getting to the office difficult.

Even with all of the benefits that a mobile workforce can deliver to government agencies, not all government workers are teleworking. Why? Well, many managers within federal agencies are concerned that all of this flexibility will result in decreased collaboration, strained communication and employees that are unsupervised and, as a result, not working.

This is where today’s advanced Unified Communications (UC) solutions, such as video teleconferencing (VTC) can play a vital role. By enabling face-to-face communication form anywhere, managers can physically see their staff and employees can continue to have face-to-face communication with their coworkers. And, with VTC solutions now being available for tablets, smartphones and other devices, it’s easier than ever to roll these solutions out across an agency.

According to the Telework Exchange’s report, telework is a great way to increase the productivity while saving employees and employers money. By embracing telework, and the new technologies that can enable it across the organization, agencies can have a more mobile, agile, happy and productive workforce.