Telework Takes Hold
Federal employees started off this week with their first snow-related delay of the winter season, and many feds are still concerned about what winter weather will mean for their commute and their ability to perform their jobs. The good news is that many government offices have adopted teleworking policies, according to a new report by Microsoft.
The report, which is based on a survey of 250 employees, 73 percent of which worked in government, found that 67 percent of respondents work remotely at least some of the time. Surprisingly, however, only 33 percent of teleworkers indicated that their job satisfaction and productivity have increased since telework adoption.
Managers also are buying into the concept of telework, with 47 percent of respondents saying their boss was enthusiastic about telework, while 25 percent said their boss was skeptical but willing to give telework a chance.
In a time where the potential for budget cuts is forcing agencies to do more with less, respondents also indicated that telework could help achieve that goal. After streamlining the acquisition process (31 percent) and reducing travel budgets (25 percent), respondents indicated that implementing telework policies (22 percent) could help agencies save money.
Of respondents who do not telework, half reported that they would strongly consider a career move if another comparable opportunity arose that included a more robust telework policy, the survey found.
Still, many government workers face challenges in working remotely, the survey found. Approximately 30 percent of respondents said that telework gets in the way of team collaboration and that working effectively requires face time. Respondents also noted concern with not knowing how to best communicate with colleagues, difficulty accessing key work documents and difficulty in scheduling meetings.
At the same time, respondents indicated that embracing new technologies, like chat/instant messaging (27 percent), video conferencing (29 percent) and collaborative document editing (32 percent), can help to close the collaboration gap.
"Although these tools didn't unseat email and the telephone as preferred communications methods," the report states, "it's clear that there is significant demand in the government sector for collaboration capabilities that can be accessed from any location and any device."
And finally, teleworkers also indicated that they are taking advantage of another perk of working from home -- comfort. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they prefer a personal dress code of jeans and t-shirts, sweats or pajamas.