Rise in Telework and Agency Confidence: Report

Some 70 percent will still need to update their policies to meet the July deadline for the Telework Enhancement Act.

Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the tangible value of telework, announced the results of the "Federal Telework Progress Report: Making the Grade?," which gauges federal telework progress against Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requirements, and the provisions within 180 days to build the foundation for a sustainable telework program.

Underwritten by Juniper Networks, the report found that those most responsible for telework programs, including official telework managing officers (TMOs), were confident about meeting the June 7 deadline put forth in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The report found that federal agencies are making positive strides in telework advancement. Notably, 86 percent of TMOs reported an increase in telework participation in the past six months.

According to the report, the majority of TMOs said they would meet the June 7 deadline to establish a telework policy (86 percent), determine the eligibility for all employees of the agency to participate in telework (84 percent), and notify all agency employees of their eligibility to telework (76 percent). Additionally, the majority of agencies surveyed have training programs in place.

Additional goals outlined in the Telework Enhancement Act require agencies to establish and fill an official TMO position, require a written telework agreement between eligible employees and managers, develop an interactive training program for eligible employees and managers of teleworkers, incorporate telework into continuity of operations plans, and establish a system to collect and track telework data.

Agencies are making strides in ensuring these requirements are met quickly, with the majority of agencies ahead of the curve. "Telework is about making the federal workforce attractive to our country's best and brightest, mitigating traffic in the Washington region, and reducing emissions and air pollution. It's a win, win, win," said Congressman John Sarbanes, D-Md., author of the Telework Enhancement Act.

The report also found that while telework participation is on the rise, telework leaders agree that the top telework challenges are capturing data and managing program metrics (49 percent), management support (46 percent), and technology support (38 percent). Additionally, federal agencies have some ground to cover on updating their policies for purchasing telework-enabling technology set forth by the Office of Management and Budget. Some 70 percent will still need to update their policies to meet the agency's July deadline.

"With evidence of positive and measurable progress, it is inspiring to see federal agencies embracing the Telework Enhancement Act, and overall creating a more IT efficient government," said Bob Dix, vice president of U.S. government affairs and critical infrastructure protection for Juniper Networks. "According to the report, the majority of TMOs believe their agencies have moved toward ensuring that adequate security provisions are in place. We can't stress the importance of having a strong security policy and IT support in place for telework programs. As agencies ramp up programs and continue to manage a more distributed workforce, they have to ensure data is protected."