Federal Government's Telework Program--a Work in ProgressSeptember 5, 2012
It’s time to re-visit teleworking, specifically progress being made by the federal government to implement the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. In an earlier blog, written about nine months ago, I wrote about the Act and its goals--to improve continuity of operations in emergencies, to reduce management costs, environmental impact, and transit costs, and to facilitate work-life balance for employee productivity and retention. GWG’s specific interest is to track potential energy savings that may be realized from teleworking arrangements. The Act requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to annually report to Congress on the status of the Federal Government’s use of telework.
This year’s report, published in June, presents positive strides and outcomes from the first full year of implementation. It also notes that much more work is needed to measure and maximize the anticipated benefits, including environmental benefits. The primary content related to environmental benefits and energy consumption begins on page 82 of the 150 page report. The report describes the energy impact of telework as a function of transportation, home and office space and equipment, and information and communication technology. Included in the transportation aspect would be the frequency of teleworking.
The report acknowledges that little data exists at present to accurately measure and assess the relationship between teleworking and energy consumption. Direct energy savings can be difficult to measure as agencies share real estate with other agencies in buildings and may not be realized unless telework results in a reduced need for building space. Included are summaries of the latest literature and studies and reports of successes achieved in the private and Federal Government sectors. From this review, OPM has identified two steps agencies can take to promote desired energy savings: encourage employees with the longest commutes to telework and educate employees about how to best save energy while teleworking. The latter is significant as some studies show an increase in home energy consumption that may offset more energy-efficient office settings.
The Telework Enhancement Act encourages, but does not require, agencies to set a goal for energy savings. Of 80 agencies (does not include sub-agencies) reporting; only one-third reported having specific goals to measure energy savings. While we can anticipate more valuable information and outcomes from those agencies in future reports, we may not learn as much compared to a wider participation among federal agencies to set goals and track results in energy and greenhouse gas reductions.
The report has good references for those seeking more details on studies and reports on energy savings and telework. Also, for telework enthusiasts and managers of teleworking programs, the report is a must-read. Click here to read the full report.
Learn more about the Federal Telework program at Telework.gov.