Each March, the Mobile Work Exchange encourages employees across all federal agencies and private enterprises to dedicate themselves to telework. The week is called Telework Week, and it effectively serves as an opportunity for employers to pilot telework in hopes that the benefits will lead them to further adoption of the concept.
According to an infographic released by the Mobile Work Exchange, this year’s Telework Week had 163,000 pledges – a 400 percent increase from the first Telework Week in 2011. An astounding 94 percent of these pledges worked for the federal government. On average, these pledges worked two days a week from home, avoided a roundtrip commute of 45 miles per day and saved an estimated 4.5 hours and $90 a week by working remotely.
The savings aren’t only for the commuters themselves, however. According to the same infographic, if federal employees worked remotely an average of two days a week, the federal government would save $8.7B per year.
But the benefits of telework aren’t only financial.
Recent studies have found a significant correlation between time spent commuting, morale and productivity – multiple of which were cited in a recent article by B2C. One such study was conducted by the UK’s Office of National Statistics and found that commutes longer than 45 minutes led to employees who felt less satisfaction with their lives, lower value in their daily activities and increased anxiety.
Another study cited by B2C was conducted by Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital and found a decrease in productivity and performance for each hour than an employee has been awake. If these findings are correct, then employees most likely spend some of their most productive time commuting in the morning, and some of their least productive time working.
If federal government employees are going to be the most productive, they need to be able to spend their most productive time doing work, and not navigating traffic jams on the Beltway, or waiting for a sick passenger to be cared for on the Red Line.
With tight budgets and hiring freezes, decreasing costs and increasing productivity are paramount in today’s federal government. By enabling telework, federal agencies can embrace desk sharing and eliminate excess real estate leading to significant decreases in real estate costs. They can also generate savings in utility usage, office supplies and other costly expenses. By enabling employees to work where and when they’re most productive, the federal government will also optimize every employee and get the most out of every resource they have.
Unfortunately, there are still barriers to the adoption of telework across federal agencies – even though the benefits are plentiful. The largest remains managerial concerns about employees being unable to perform as effectively when they’re working remotely as they can inside the office. Luckily, new technologies can help eliminate those concerns.
Today’s virtual desktop and cloud storage solutions enable federal employees to access their desktops, applications and important files from anywhere with an Internet connection. And today’s video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions eliminate concerns about collaboration and communication by enabling employees to have face-to-face conversations regardless of their physical location. VTC solutions have been one of the driving forces behind Polycom’s own telework initiatives. A large number of Polycom employees work remotely thanks to VTC, which has helped make the company a telework pioneer.
Telework simply makes sense in today’s federal government – where productivity and cost savings are essential. By utilizing today’s technologies to enable employees to be as effective when working from home as they are in their offices, government agencies can cut costs, drive up productivity and truly get the most out of every member of their staff.