December 19, 2013

2013 federal telework numbers troubling

Legislation passed in 2000 required federal workers to telework “to the maximum extent possible.” The Telework Enhancement Act passed in 2010 put teeth in the earlier legislation. Yet the 2013 Status of Telework in the Federal Government report showed that only 8% do so on a regular basis (up from 6% in 2012) although 45% of federal employees are deemed eligible for telework (up from 32% in 2013).

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey also tracks telework participation, but only among those who do so at least half time. While Census’ latest numbers (2012) show federal telework participation ahead of private sector (3.3% of the workforce among federal employees, 2.6% of private for-profit employees, and 2.9% of non-profit employees), the trends suggest trouble ahead.

Private sector telework grew 42% between 2006 and 2012 and state government telework grew 60%, but federal telework actually declined 2.4%.

If effectively implemented by the federal government, telework could save taxpayers over $10 billion a year. Greenhouse gas emission would be reduced by the equivalent of planting 21 million trees. And government employees would be more engaged, more productive, and more effective.

The potential impacts that produce the savings were calculated using Global Workplace Analytics’ Federal Telework Savings Calculator™. The calculator includes over 100 variables and more than 600 calculations. The methodology and details on the benefits calculated are described in a free white paper titled, Federal Telework—Return on Taxpayer Investment.

Based on very conservative assumptions (outlined in the federal ROI white paper), Global Workplace Analytics estimates that if the 882,000 federal employees who are both eligible for telework (47% of the federal workforce) and say they would telework if allowed (87% of the federal workforce) did so at the same average frequency as those who telework now (2.2 days a week) the triple bottom line impact would include:

  • Real Estate and Energy Savings: $1.7 billion/year
  • Absenteeism and Turnover Savings: $1.7 billion/year
  • Increased Productivity: $6 billion/year
  • Transit Subsidies: $196 million/year
  • Continuity of Operations: $515 million/year
  • Healthcare: $90 million/year
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction: equivalent of planting 21 million trees/year*
  • Cost of Traffic Accidents Avoided: $153 million/year
  • Employee Savings: Average of $2,300/year** each and time saving equivalent of 10 workdays/year (time they would have otherwise spent in traffic)

The assumptions behind the model are based on a database of over 4,000 case studies and other documents. Home energy usage and errand trips taken on telework days, among other factors, are also accounted for in the model.

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Telework Yields $32 Million in Snow Day Savings, Forbes, February 27, 2014

Lone Eagle Cities: Where the Most People Work from Home, NextGov, March 3, 2014

Madison firms not about to ban telecommuting, Capital Times, February 25, 2014

How To Build and Sustain a Remote Workforce, Fast Company, February 21, 2014

Accountability, The Key to Federal Telework, Federal Times OpEd by Kate Lister, February 6, 2014

Florida Among the Top 10 States for Telecommuting Jobs, Jacksonville Business Journal, February 10, 2014

Federal Telework Surge Could Save $14 Billion Annually , Wired Workplace, January 25, 2014

Measuring the Impact of Workplace Flexibility, 1 Million for Flexibility, January 24, 2014

FEDTalk, Federal News Radio interviews Kate Lister on the Office of Personnel Management’s latest Status of Telework—Report to Congress, January 24, 2014

Report Says Telework Could Save Government $14 Billion a Year, Federal Computer Week, January 24, 2014

Federal Telework Surge Could Save $14 Billion Annually, NextGov, January 24, 2014

Telestorming: When weather and disasters forces people to work from home, Deseret News, January 10, 2014

Why Telework When You Can Take a Snow Day?,, January 4, 2014

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