Hope for Federal Telecommuters: Senate Passes Telework Act

Ann All
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Telecommuting's Powerful Benefits

More than 34 million Americans telecommute at least occasionally. While it might not be for everyone, the future of telework appears bright.

Last month I wrote a post in which I wondered whether federal agencies could set a good telecommuting example for the private sector. I wondered whether the winter "Snowmageddon" that essentially shut down the nation's capitol for several days, stranding many federal workers at home with limited capabilities to do their jobs, might give new momentum to what had been a stalled effort to increase the numbers of federal telecommuters.

 

When I wrote the post, legislation that would have expanded federal telework options had failed to pass in the House of Representatives. As a commenter on the post pointed out, the defeat smacked of partisanship. No Democrat voted against the bill, which was similar to one that had been passed by the House during the Bush administration.

 

The commenter, who identified herself as a Republican, listed the myriad benefits both she and the government would enjoy with telecommuting. For her: saved hours of drive time that could be spent working and less money spent on gas, parking, car maintenance and eating out. For the government: reduced real estate costs, a larger pool of possible hires since relocation wouldn't be required, better disaster recovery (no more "Snowmageddon"), cleaner air and possibly reduced road maintenance due to fewer workers on the highways.

 


A bill similar to the one shunned by the House just passed the Senate. According to FederalTimes.com, the Telework Enhancement Act would require agencies to expand teleworking opportunities for employees and incorporate telework programs into their continuity-of-operations plans. It would also require agencies to establish policies with the Office of Personnel Management allowing employees to work from their homes or other locations, as long as teleworking does not interfere with employees' jobs. Agencies would designate telework-managing officers, who would report to chief human capital officers.



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Jun 4, 2010 12:33 PM Gary Karp Gary Karp  says:

Telecommuting will also expand the pool of potential hires with disabilities. These are fully qualified people who faces obstacles with transportation and, in some cases, difficulties showing up physically every day for a full day. I'm not talking about the "home bound," but fully qualified people who are on the edge of being able to perform well solely around whether they have to make it into work every day at 8:30 a.m.

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Jun 5, 2010 4:06 AM aullman aullman  says:

Telecommuting options can go a long way towards cutting back on oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  Companies need incentives and different options in order to make telecommuting work.  Tax incentives and gov't participation in telework programs can help.  Workers should be given the option of working from their home or from Remote Office Centers near their homes. 

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