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Federal government making strides in telework and virtual meetings

If telecommuting is your goal, consider a job with the government.

Over the past few years, the federal government has made tremendous strides in allowing its employees to work from home. For instance, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently granted employees permission to telecommute up to five days a week and implemented flexible work hours to allow employees other options besides the traditional 9-to-5 schedule.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act, which acknowledged that telework:

  • is a useful strategy to improve Continuity of Operations to help ensure that essential Federal functions continue during emergency situations;
  • promotes management effectiveness when telework is used to target reductions in management costs and environmental impact and transit costs, and;
  • enhances work-life balance, i.e. telework allows employees to better manage their work and family obligations, retaining a more resilient Federal workforce able to better meet agency goals.

Not only does the Act recognize the vital contributions of government teleworkers, it also emphasizes that by teleworking, employees are better able to balance their professional and personal lives.

To optimize the effectiveness of telecommuting and to reduce federal agency travel expenses, the government initiated the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013. The Act outlines the effectiveness of video conferencing, which can cut travel expenses by 50 percent. The legislation affirms that video conferencing can improve collaboration, efficiency and work-life balance by facilitating communication and increasing productivity. Other benefits, such as reduced carbon footprints and enhanced remote training and meetings for telecommuting employees, were also addressed. The legislation states that each federal agency must “incorporate telework into the continuity of operations plan…as a workplace flexibility that assists agencies to maintain continuity of operations and recede management costs while also improving Federal employees’ ability to balance their work and life commitments.”

Recent data from a Mobile Work Exchange study found that federal employees who use video conferencing save an average of 3.5 hours per week in productivity. If half of all federal employees used video conferencing, the U.S. government could realize up to $8 BIL in productivity savings each year. (Source: Huffington Post)

The Feds are onto something. By allowing their employees to work from home, they are increasing efficiency, saving money and improving the work-life balance of their employees. By relying on technology and telework instead of travel, the government is investing in a healthier tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user pinguino

 

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