Telework is becoming more prominent in the federal sector and is leading to costs savings for some parts of the government, according to a survey of 88 agencies by the Office of Personnel Management.
The report found the number of employees deemed eligible for telework grew from about 685,000 in 2011 to more than 1 million in 2012, a 49 percent increase. The number of employees with telework agreements also increased 84 percent from about 145,000 to almost 270,000.
Almost 20 agencies reported saving money through reduced employee absences, 10 saved on utilities and 13 reported savings in rent. Almost all aspects of savings, from training to retention, had an increase in the number of agencies reporting cost reductions compared to 2011 due to teleworking. Still, 31 agencies did not have their cost savings prepared.
Additionally, 73 percent of employees with the option to telework said they were satisfied with their jobs, compared with 65 percent of those without the option.
The study was the second on teleworking published under the Telework Enhancement Act. The act was passed in an attempt to incorporate telework as a standard practice in the federal government.
“Over the years, telework has continued to receive attention due to its potential to improve employee moral, enhance work-life balance for employees, improve the competitive position of the federal government for recruiting … and maximize organizational continuity and productivity,” the report said.
OPM also conducted a case study of the environmental impacts of telecommuting in early 2013. The case study found workers saved money through teleworking and reduced pollution.
Of the 933 respondents who tracked their teleworking statistics, an annual estimated value of $270,000 was saved in gasoline. Furthermore, 578 metric tons of greenhouse gasses were saved from being released.
“Federal telework continues to be transformed into the strategic management tool that many in the community have long envisioned,” the report said.