Career Matters

By Lily Whiteman

Why managers should telecommute

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If you are a supervisor, should you or shouldn’t you telecommute?

The first question to ask is whether you trust your staff to keep working when you are out of the office. Think about whether your staffers maintain their productivity when you are on leave.

If you don’t trust your staff to keep working, consider taking training for managers on leadership skills or on teleworking, which are already offered by some agencies and may soon be offered by other agencies under the new Telework Enhancement Act, which is designed to increase teleworking by feds. Such training may provide you with strategies for increasing employee productivity when they are receiving less supervision.

In addition, remember that with the help of other electronic communication, you may create a presence in your office without being there.

Also consider the following advantages of teleworking for you, your agency and your community:

• You will reduce your commuting costs. If you commute by car, these savings include the cost of gas and parking. By reducing your commute, you will also help reduce pollution and help your agency reduce its carbon footprint.

• You will gain flexibility in your schedule. If, for example, the time it takes you to drop off your children at school before work invariably puts you into a panic, teleworking can help relieve the pressure of the morning rush.

• You will reduce your need to take leave. For example, you could telework instead of taking sick leave when you feel too sick to go to work but you feel well enough to work at home. By staying home, you also eliminate the risk of spreading communicable diseases.

• You will free up time that you would otherwise spend commuting and dressing for success..

• You may improve your job satisfaction. Teleworking is reputed to increase job satisfaction and to help agencies recruit and retain the best employees, particularly employees who seek a better work-life balance and newer employees who expect a technologically advanced workplace.

• You may get more work done. At home, you may avoid constant interruptions, including questions and issues brought up by your staff that can wait until you are back in the office. You will also avoid distracting, idle chit-chat at the water cooler or elsewhere that is typical of centralized offices.

Without such interruptions and distractions, you may gain more time and opportunities to accomplish tasks that require sustained concentration, such as thinking, strategizing, reading, writing and completing technical tasks.

• You will demonstrate your trust in your staff.

• You will help your agency save money on office space, infrastructure, energy and other resources. As an example of such savings, by allowing employees to telework, the Patent and Trademark Office avoided spending an additional $11 million on purchasing new office space, according to a 2010 report produced by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton.

• You will help your agency continue operations when the government unexpectedly closes because of homeland security threats, weather or other emergencies.

• You will help your agency meet the goals of the Telework Enforcement Act.

These advantages of telecommuting are also reasons to allow your staff to telecommute.

For more information on teleworking by feds and on managing teleworking feds, visit the telework website.

Comments

  1. Kate Lister Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Using assumptions from the same GSA/Booz Allen study mentioned in this article, our Telework Savings Calculator estimates that agencies would save over $5,200 per one-day- a-week telecommuter. Those savings would come from increased productivity, lower real estate and related costs, and reduced absenteeism and turnover.

    Federal employees would save almost a week’s worth of time by not commuting and pocket an extra $800-$2,700 from savings in work-related expenses.

    In total, across the federal civilian workforce, if those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just once a week, we’d save $230 million in imported oil, reduce our greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking 95,000 cars off and save almost 1,000 people from traffic-related injury or death. The cumulative savings for employers, employees and the community would total over 6.4 Billion dollars a year.

    The proprietary Telework Savings Calculator has been used by company and community leaders throughout the US and Canada to model the benefits of telework. The Telework Research Network’s research has been cited by the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and scores of other publications.

    Kate Lister
    Principal Researcher
    TeleworkResearchNetwork.com

  2. Bowman Olds Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    The question “Why managers should telecommute” can be answered in three words:
    “Leadership By Example”
    Side note: the center of focus should not be on telecommute but on telework – it’s the “work” which gets done that’s paramount, not the “commute.”

  3. Joel Garner Says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Fed employees in IT positions seem to have lost the motivation for technology adaptation. The culture of engaging contractors for most development projects is costly, but unavoidable, to get something of value implemented. Do we need so many IT positions staffed by employees whose skills are pathetic even by 2000 standards in the fast pased technology world? Also do we need so many layers of paper pushers who don’t add value either?

  4. Art of RetroCollage Says:
    April 19th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Telecommuting also would allow expertise to handle problems more quickly. As for managers, as long as good communications with the subordinates are maintained, telecommuting could improve quality of life as well for all involved.