Feds Hesitate to Adopt Telework

The GSA says negative perceptions of telecommuting are keeping federal workers away, but it has incentives to offer.

Just 140,694 federal workers telecommuted in 2005, 7.7 percent of the federal work force and less than one-fifth (19 percent) of those who were eligible, according to a report released by the U.S. General Services Administration Jan. 29 as part of an effort to attract more workers into their telecommuting program.

Federal managers, supervisors and senior executives are being courted by the GSA to sample the benefits of remote work from any of their 14 sponsored centers in the Washington area, at no cost to their agencies.

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The GSA argues that negative perceptions of remote work is what is keeping these federal managers away.

Despite this, workers attitudes become more favorable as they try it: 75 percent of the managers who telecommuted had a favorable view of it, according to the report.

In addition, they set an example for workers who said that only if their managers began to occasionally work outside the office would they feel comfortable doing the same.

In data collected from their 14 telework centers, the GSA found that these facilities had saved commuters nearly 2.8 million miles of travel, or 115 thousand gallons of fuel and 2.3 million pounds of emissions.

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"GSAs mission is to provide facility and workplace solutions for federal agencies and employees," said David L. Winstead, commissioner for GSAs Public Buildings Service. "At the same time, we provide teleworking options which support the productivity of federal workers and address the challenges of congestion in urban markets across the United States."

As part of the larger goal of providing better workplaces and technological solutions, the GSA is inviting first-time users to sign up to use one of its telecommuting centers by Sept. 30, 2007.

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