The federal telework workforce grew more than 400 percent in the year between 2005 and 2006. Though it’s flattened out since 2006, that’s still a huge growth over the past five years -- more than four times the growth rate of telework among state government employees.
The federal government also boasts a higher percentage of teleworkers than any other sector, according to a new report by the Telework Research Network that was written by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish.
The report says that 3.2 percent of the federal workforce teleworked in 2009, up from just 0.7 percent in 2005. That’s slightly higher than any other sector, such as the private for-profit (2.4 percent), non-profit (2.7 percent), local government (1.1 percent) and state government (2.2 percent).
Federal employees who considered home their primary place of work totaled only 30,000 in 2005. According to A.C.S. data, 3.2 percent of federal employees called home their primary place of work in 2009. However, the government’s own accounting shows that 61 percent of the 2 million federal employees are considered eligible to telework, but only 100,000, or 5.2 percent, did so in 2009.
Meanwhile, local and state government employees together account for 8.6 percent of the at-home workforce. Some states, including Georgia, Virginia, and Arizona, have passed legislation to increase work-at-home within their workforce, but the majority of states have not.
Since 2000, a federal mandate has required that every U.S. government employee work from home to the maximum extent possible. President Obama himself has lobbied for telework. And, in December of 2010, the Telework Enhancement Act passed through both houses of Congress with bipartisan support.
In a report to Congress, O.P.M. director John Berry said, “I am an adamant supporter of telework because workers in an effective telework program can only be judged by their results. Those who can’t perform and can’t improve can’t hide behind their desks. It is up to management to give our employees clear direction and support, and then trust them to deliver.”
With the continued growth of government telework, the Office of Management and Budget (O.M.B.) issued a memorandum last week outlining requirements for keeping information secure. The memo reminded agencies to continue to follow its policies and rules, along with those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Homeland Security Department. Agencies also must comply with the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act as a minimum requirement to protect information and prevent security breaches.
Overall telework statistics, according to the Lister/Harnish report:
>> Since 76 percent of telecommuters work for private sector companies (down from 81 percent in 2005), the overall difference is largely attributable to increased work-at-home among state and federal workers.
>> Fifty million U.S. employees who want to work from home hold jobs that are telework-compatible, though only 2.9 million consider home their primary place of work (2.3 percent).
>> The existing 2.9 million U.S. telecommuters save 390 million gallons of gas and prevent the release of 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gases yearly.
>> If those with compatible jobs worked at home 2.4 days a week (the national average of those who do), the reduction in greenhouse gases (51 million tons) would be equivalent of taking the entire New York workforce off the roads.
>> The national savings would total over $900 billion a year; enough to reduce our Persian Gulf oil imports by 46 percent.
>> The energy saved annually from telecommuting could exceed the output of all renewable energy sources combined.
>> The typical telecommuter is a 49-year-old, college-educated, salaried, non-union employee in a management or professional role, earning $58,000 a year at a company with more than 100 employees.
“While looming labor shortages, increased pressure from value chain partners and others to engage in sustainable practices, rising fuel prices, budget pressures and a variety of other factors will continue to make telework attractive, the cultural barriers will not be quickly overcome,” the report stated.
--Full report: www.workshifting.com/downloads/downloads/Telework-Trends-US.pdf