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FCW : August 30, 2013
Telework 16 August 30, 2013 FCW.COM space when they do come into the of ce, a practice known as hoteling. That approach saves USPTO about $20 million annually in real estate costs. "Telework at USPTO is a very care- fully strategized business initiative," Campbell said. "We do pilots along the way to test the particulars of each pilot, and we continue to collect data throughout all pilot programs. We look at the technology, what worked, what didn t work, and we monitor programs past the pilot status. That s one of the reasons telework has been so success- ful here." (Tele)working through the challenges Teleworking isn t as easy as ipping a switch, even after 16 years. Significant challenges remain in terms of security, training, and poten- tial trust issues between remote employees and of ce-based managers. Campbell said individualized training has alleviated most of those concerns. USPTO employees receive training based on their position, and it covers IT and non-IT issues. Campbell said man- agers also receive training to minimize the friction points between teleworking and non-teleworking employees. In addition, future teleworkers at USPTO learn how to troubleshoot IT issues and operate programs such as WebEx, one of the videoconferencing tools USPTO employees use to com- municate with one another. And they do all that before they attempt to work remotely. IT training also covers other tools that come with the teleworking territory: voice over IP, remote desktop sharing, video instant messaging and teleconferencing. USPTO issues a standardized pack- age of laptop, docking station and peripherals to every employee. After the appropriate training, teleworkers can take the computers home, but they are not allowed to use the laptops on public networks because of the pro- prietary nature of their work. Other agencies have similar policies. Some teleworkers at the Agriculture Telework not a t for all Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned tele- work throughout the company in February, and fel- low Fortune 500 mainstay Best Buy followed suit. The move by Yahoo, which employs a slew of remote work- ers and journal- ists across the country, sparked a heated debate about the merits of telework. Those in favor of Mayer's deci- sion argued that teleworkers do not produce at the clip of their of ce-based co-workers, while those who support telework said the move was out of step with the modern workplace and focused on Department may only use government- issued devices on the agency s virtual private network. Other employees who deal with less sensitive infor- mation have remote technology that "allows more exibility in how and where the work gets done," said Mika Cross, work/life and wellness program manager at USDA s Of ce of Human Resources Management. Security, she said, is tailored to the mission. "In USDA, we have options vetted, procured and approved for teleworking," Cross said. "It depends on the mission, agency CIO restric- tions and what kind of equipment is available." Among the toughest challenges for managers who are implementing tele- work initiatives are the size and mis- sion diversity of the agency. USDA, for example, has more than 100,000 employees in 29 departments nation- wide. What works for one department might not work for another. And simply getting the word out about telework opportunities can be challenging. Cross said USDA s evangelizing has helped expand the use of telework. From food inspectors to firefight- ers, the number of USDA employ- ees approved to telework jumped by 10,000 in 2012, and the number of those who actually telework has increased to more than 38 percent of eligible employees. "Socializing the idea that even if you are eligible to conduct your annual training, routine administrative reports or some limited form of work from a remote location, you are in fact eligi- ble [to telework] was a stretch," said Cross, adding that employees misper- ceptions about telework also hinder the process. The education efforts are worth it, the wrong metrics for productivity. As of this sum- mer, no Yahoo employees can work from home, but the policy change has not caused the mass exodus that many had expected. Some say Yahoo, which was strug- gling in myriad ways before Mayer's announce- ment, was rife with inef cien- cies that managers were either unaware of or ignoring. The debate rages on, though: Could a better telework policy have solved Yahoo's inef ciencies in a more effective --- and less public --- way? Only time will tell. --- Frank Konkel Marissa Mayer
August 15, 2013
September 15, 2013