OPM study predicts increase in teleworking by federal employees

Although recent studies have shown that the federal government needs to do more to promote telework, the government actually saw a significant increase in employees working from home in 2004, according to the results of an official survey.

The study, conducted annually by the Office of Personnel Management, found that teleworking by employees increased 37 percent last year, with 140,694 federal employees participating in telecommute programs.

This increase continues an overall trend in the government since OPM, with help from the General Services Administration, started tracking telework status in April 2001. At that time, 72,844 federal workers telecommuted, OPM found.

'The success of federal telework is evidenced by yearly increases in the numbers of federal employees utilizing telework to meet agency human capital goals,' the study said. 'Through continued development of tools and resources, and the heightened focus on the integration of telework and [continuity-of-operations planning], it is anticipated that telework will continue to advance.'

OPM surveyed 86 federal agencies and 82 responded'a 95 percent response rate and a 9.5 percent increase from 2003.

At this time, 35 agencies have incorporated telework into their COOP programs, while another 37 say they are considering adding telecommuting to these initiatives, the study said.

The results come as private firms released reports claiming the government was not doing enough to promote telework opportunities.

Earlier this week, the Telework Exchange of Alexandria, Va., a joint federal-industry online community, concluded that although telecommuting is a key aspect of any COOP program, agencies are doing a poor job of communicating teleworking options to employees.

And last month, the Telework Exchange reported that many employees were unaware of agency telework plans, keeping them from participating in telework programs.

But OPM survey results said the government is actively promoting telework opportunities, including establishing the Telework.gov online portal which details telework laws, policies and guidance. Also, the USALearning.gov portal offers training for managers and workers.

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