A column highlighting recent telework news.
Participation in and response to the inaugural 2011 Telework Week proved so overwhelming that Telework Exchange is predicting an even better turnout for the coming year. Telework Week 2012, sponsored by Cisco, will take place March 5-9, and the program will kick-off just before the one-year anniversary of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. Beginning November 17, employees and organizations can pledge to telework and calculate potential commuting savings and other business benefits by visiting www.teleworkexchange.com/teleworkweek.
The 10th semi-annual Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting opened with morning keynote speaker, Commonwealth of Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Sean T. Connaughton. He spoke about the unexpected silver lining associated with the Metropolitan Washington, DC area’s “congestion cloud,” specifically highlighting the fact that the DC area was recently ranked number one in the nation for traffic congestion by the Texas Transportation Institute. The good news is that the increased traffic indicates the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area's economy is still moving – even if traffic is not. A 28-year resident of the region, Secretary Connaughton addressed the audience as a fellow commuter, and one who has served as a local, state, and Federal government official with a clear understanding of how cooperative efforts among government entities can spark meaningful change.
In the last issue we shared how many agencies leveraged telework to maintain operations during the series of blows Mother Nature delivered to the Eastern Seaboard throughout the summer including, an earthquake, a hurricane, and a tropical storm. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in particular relied on telework as a continuity of operations (COOP) strategy for weathering the storms. Telework Exchange spoke with Danette Campbell, the organization’s senior advisor for telework, and Judy Sibert, an emergency management specialist with the USPTO, to discuss how the agency’s 6,400+ teleworkers remained largely unfazed in the face of disaster.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Administration, E. J. (“Ned”) Holland, Jr., had some advice for Federal managers during his luncheon keynote address: Don't make a Federal case out of telework, just do it!
What does it take to make telework work? Government and industry experts at the Fall 2011 Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting agreed that successful Federal telework programs all have at least two attributes in common: appropriate, secure technology and proactive, accountable management. Throughout the day, common themes emerged in the concurrently-run technology and management tracks, and attendees garnered valuable solutions to telework challenges from the presentations and discussions prompted by attendee questions.
The end of the Fall Town Hall Meeting got a little sticky. Anticipation for the closing session, "Telework Ideas that Stick,” grew throughout the day as attendees posted their telework experiences and key take aways on the large "sticky board" stationed outside of the Town Hall Meeting sessions. The event included representatives from 151 Federal agencies and many attendees contributed to the colorful collage of oversized post-it notes by sharing their challenges, lessons learned, and suggestions.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a workforce of approximately 120,000 employees and provides the nation with leadership in many areas including management and oversight of the national food supply, as well as agriculture, natural resources, and rural development. The Department also has between 20,000 and 30,000 industry partners supporting contracts and through state government programs. USDA’s broad responsibilities range from supporting Rural Development offices nationwide, to managing farm-based food processing sites, to patrolling borders, to managing animal transport and health. With such diverse functions to perform, USDA has embraced mobility as an essential component to enable its workforce of tomorrow.