Another Major Storm, More Impetus for Feds to Adopt Telework

Susan Hall
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Six Tips on Introducing a Telework Program

Important tips to ensure your telecommuting program is a success.

The federal government isn’t technically closed today though the area is still feeling the rampage of massive storm Sandy. It’s “closed to the public,” reports Federal News Radio.

Federal buildings in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York will be closed; however, essential personnel and teleworkers are still expected to report to work. Here’s a list of closures.

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 sought to encourage working from home, based on the need for continuity in emergencies. It required agencies to develop telework policies, designate a telework coordinator and integrate telework into their emergency operations. It also directed agencies to determine whether employees were eligible to telework.

When my colleague Ann All wrote about a "Snowmageddon" that shut down federal agencies in 2010, she cited an estimate from the Office of Personnel and Management that government office closures are costing about $100 million a day in lost productivity. Yet, telework has been slow to catch on with the feds, even though 65 percent of agencies say they have the infrastructure to make it happen.

After a storm in July left 1 million D.C.-area customers without power, Josh Sawislak, senior fellow for Telework Exchange told Nextgov that even loss of power shouldn’t necessarily keep employees from working. (I’m still not sure how they could, though.)

It quoted Sawislak, saying:

If we can train, equip and prepare everybody, then situations like this are much easier to ensure we have continuity of operations throughout the government. This has been a great opportunity to really get people to understand why telework is such a key piece of a resilience strategy.

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