Wired Workplace Wired WorkplaceWired Workplace
How information technology is changing the landscape for federal employees.

Patent Telework Success

joingate / Shutterstock.com

The Patent and Trademark Office has long been considered a model for other federal agencies when it comes to telework adoption. And, according to the latest report on the status of teleworking at PTO, it remains a telework leader: Seventy-nine percent of employees are eligible to work from home at least one day per week.

The PTO's 2011 telework status report noted that more than 6,500 employees agencywide are teleworking at least one day per week. A large number of employees are teleworking more than one day per week, with 3,464 working from home between four and five days per week and 3,114 working from home one to three days per week. Those figures mark an overall increase of 922 teleworking employees from the previous fiscal year.

Those working from home at least one day per week last year avoided driving more than 7.9 million miles, saved more than $1 million in gasoline and reduced emissions by 4,150 tons. Those teleworking four to five days per week in 2011 avoided driving more than 39.9 miles, saved more than $5.2 million on gasoline and reduced emissions by 20,957 tons, according to the report.

The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act authorized PTO to establish a pilot program that allows employees to voluntarily relocate from their pre-existing official duty station to an alternate work site and waive agency payment of travel expenses for a reasonable number of required occasional trips back to the original duty station. PTO has conducted a thorough cost and benefit analysis of the program, which has been sent to the General Services Administration for approval, the report stated.

In 2011, PTO also expanded on its Trademark Work at Home program, which promotes telework in all of its Trademark organization work units. The expansion resulted in 97 percent of all trademark employees being eligible to telework, with 88 percent of those workers doing so.

"The most significant positive change [as a result of the Trademark Work at Home program] has been our employees' increased job satisfaction," said Deborah Cohn, commissioner for trademarks at PTO. "We certainly have a low attrition rate. The most important difference has been how we communicate with those in a remote environment, but the good news is we have become better communicators as a result."

The agency in 2010 also established a working group to discuss the feasibility of conducting a pilot program to test satellite offices outside of the mid-Atlantic region. In 2011, the agency launched the first of these satellite offices in Detroit, Mich., as part of the Nationwide Workforce Program. The program enables PTO to expand its traditional hiring methods by targeting specific areas of the country where resources, employees and technical expertise exist.

"We have found that employees, who need to meet the needs of elderly parents, or who must move with a spouse who gets a new job, or who simply prefer living in another part of the country, are able to keep their position with the USPTO and continue to provide excellent service," said Margaret Focarino, commissioner for patents at PTO.

In 2011, the agency also launched its Universal Laptop initiative, which enables the agency to support its telework program without having to duplicate equipment for teleworkers. The program supports a cost-effective means for supporting teleworkers and non-teleworkers by issuing just one laptop, versus a laptop and desktop computer.

In 2012, PTO plans to expand its Nationwide Workforce Program and implement the Telework Enhancement Act pilot program. "The USPTO will sustain its role as a telework thought and practice leader throughout the next decade," the report said. "As telework continues to expand within USPTO and beyond, the USPTO experience and voice will be a role model for federal agencies seeking to further develop telework opportunities for their personnel."

(Image via joingate /Shutterstock.com)

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.