In this edition of CivSource’s The Gallery, Christina Morrison, HP Public Sector Marketing Manager, discusses the benefits of teleworking in state and local government agencies, from cost savings to environmental benefits.
The recent recession took a significant toll on the finances of state and local governments, and despite the recent economic uptick, many government agencies are still struggling to recover.
As agencies take steps to correct their financial problems, they will likely consider cutting programs and services that are popular in local communities. Instead, agencies could be taking a simple step that would save them money, retain valuable programs and keep workers happy.
That simple step is to enhance their teleworking programs.
The benefits of teleworking to the individual employee are clear – reduced commuting time can give you back 200 hours per year or more to devote to your work and your family – but the benefits to government agencies are similarly substantial.
Increased teleworking would help government agencies save money by reducing the high costs associated with providing office services. The combined costs of services such as real estate, heating and cooling, telecom supplies and other expenses can be close to $10,000 per employee annually in some agencies and corporations.
Teleworking programs help government agencies maximize worker productivity, especially during unforeseen circumstances. Consider the 2011 “Snowpocalypse” that shut down government offices in the Atlanta and Washington, D.C. areas, or the Hurricane Rita office closures in Texas. The ability to work from home during those weather issues could have saved the states millions of dollars from lost productivity.
Additionally, the environmental benefits of increased teleworking benefit the entire community – according to a recent report from Telework Exchange, if all telework-eligible federal employees worked at home two days per week, they would collectively save $3.8 billion in commuting costs; if the entire eligible U.S. workforce did the same, the savings would rise to $215 billion, and 143 million tons of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided.
Even if your job doesn’t lend itself to working from home, you can still stand to gain from increased telecommuting. Less commuters on the road means less traffic overall – giving non-teleworkers more time at the office or home with their families.
Without a doubt, the task of running a more complex remote management system for teleworkers could be daunting for any IT team. But with the right IT equipment in place, technical issues can be dealt with remotely just as easily as issues inside the office. The key is to understand that every remote worker is different – some job functions might command little more than a notebook where others might require additional computing, printing, voice, and other services. A “one-size-fits-all” teleworking package that lacks flexibility could miss out on the expected benefits of efficiency and cost savings.
The effort at the state and local levels required to create this flexible telework program, however, is miniscule compared to the resulting cost savings that each agency will consequentially realize. Agencies should take a serious look at ways to equip their employees to work from home as a means of addressing budget shortfalls and making the best use of their time, money and energy.