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The Status of Telework in the Federal Government 2003

IX. Conclusion

Telework is a powerful tool for attracting and retaining well-qualified workers and can assist with Federal agencies' human capital management strategies. Many employers now regard telework and other flexible work arrangements as vital to finding and keeping the brightest and best employees.

Now more than ever, telework is an invaluable management tool which not only allows employees greater flexibility to balance their personal and professional duties, it also allows both management and employees to cope with the uncertainties that exist today with potential terrorist bio-terrorism threats, mass demonstrations and other disruptions that can occur throughout the country. Emergencies experienced beyond September 11, 2001 have increased the need for agencies to develop flexible work arrangements which include teleworking. They now have first-hand knowledge of the need for planning for the continuity of work in the face of any disaster or emergency. Because agencies are more aware of the need for actively planning and preparing for a decentralized structure for maintaining operations in emergency circumstances, telework is now seen as a logical component of that flexible organizational structure.

For many employees, reducing their commute and having more time to conduct work continues to be an important motivation for teleworking. As Director James has said, "Employees who commute to their offices over the information highway reduce the congestion on our roads, our bridges and our highways." The Washington, DC, metropolitan area consistently ranks among the worst U.S. areas for traffic congestion and individual delays, and significant improvements to that condition do not appear on the immediate horizon. Because environmental issues and the need to reduce traffic congestion continue to play a major role in Congressional interest in increasing the telework program, teleworking has become an even more relevant option in helping to improve the environment and reduce some traffic and long daily commutes.

While advances in technology have made telework possible, security concerns and information technology issues have replaced managerial resistance as the greatest barriers to teleworking. OPM believes that increased telework training and marketing, demonstration of and exposure to successful programs, and IT solutions and the continued communication of emerging trends and solutions will continue to improve the success of the Federal telework initiative.

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