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2/18/2011
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Telework Tops 5% Among Federal Employees

Nearly 14,000 government workers are now teleworking, a trend that should be bolstered by the recent signing of the Telework Enhancement Act, reports an OMB study.

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A new federal study has found that teleworking among federal employees is on the rise, a trend that should be bolstered by President Obama's recent signing of the federal telework bill, and generally leads to more job satisfaction.

The number of federal employees who telework increased 11,046 between 2008 to 2009, according to Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) Status of Telework Report to Congress, which it issued this week. This brings the number of reported federal-agency teleworkers to nearly 14,000, or 10.4% of employees that are eligible for the activity. The number also represents 5.72% of all federal employees.

Moreover, about 22% of federal employees said they engage in some form of teleworking, usually through an informal arrangement with their superiors, according to the report.

The Employee Viewpoint Survey aspect of the report found that there are key differences between teleworkers and those that work in the office all of the time. These differences point to clear benefits for the government's decision to expand teleworking as an option.

For example, 76% of employees that telework said they are satisfied with their jobs, while 68% of those who are unable to telework reported the same sentiment. Teleworkers also are more likely to recommend their organization as a good place to work than those that don't (75% vs. 66%), and will more likely stay with their job as opposed to seeking other employment (74% vs. 68%), according to the survey.

In December President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which formalized support for the activity among federal employees. It requires agencies to establish telework policies and designate a managing officer with direct access to a top agency official to oversee telework programs.

Rather than charting new territory, the bill solidified the increased support for teleworking the Obama administration already had demonstrated. Over the past year employees even have been encouraged to work from home on certain occasions.

In addition to issuing its report on teleworking, the OPM this week also met with the federal agencies responsible for implementing the telework act -- including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Services Administration (GSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Archives Records Administration (NARA) -- to plan how to put the law into action over the next several months.

Each agency is meant to pick a telework managing officer in that time frame, and the OPM will host a meeting with all of those leaders on April 6. In the meantime, by the end of March, the OPM will send guidance to agencies on how to implement telework policy. The OPM has set June 9 as the deadline for notifying all employees of their telework status.

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