Telework in an emergency

Most agencies have formally incorporated telework programs and technologies into their COOP plans.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, telework is the key to maintaining federal agency operations during and after emergencies. Agencies that regularly run telework practices and programming are prepared when a natural, accidental or hostile event prevents them from carrying out their responsibilities or missions. Active telework programs also keep agency personnel trained on newer virtual offices that might eventually become standard agency business practices.

In a report to Congress released in February, OPM said 72 percent of federal agencies have formally integrated telework into their agency emergency preparedness and continuity-of-operations plans (see pie chart). OPM found most agencies are well on their way to having an adequate number of staff trained to maintain operations during a crisis using remote or telework systems.

Agencies that reported telework is integrated into their agency emergency preparedness/COOP plans were also asked to estimate the (1) minimum number of employees needed to maintain basic functions of their agency’s mission in a COOP emergency and the (2) number of employees who are equipped, trained and ready to telework in the case of a long-term crisis such as pandemic influenza. In the chart below, we picked 10 agencies with considerable demand for telework program training and personnel.

Agency readiness for telework in an emergency

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