The move toward federal telework depends upon federal managers supporting the effort as well as find innovation solutions to problems that come up along the way.
That’s what Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry reportedly told the audience at the Federal Managers Association’s 74th National Convention & Management Training Seminar in Arlington, Va. this week. According to Federal Computer Week, his keynote address emphasized the importance of managers’ role to spearhead and steer the workforce times evolve.
“To reap the benefits of telework, we need [federal managers], we need to practice, we need to know out systems and personnel can handle work from remote locations, before disaster hits, whether it be natural or otherwise,” he said.
Among other benefits, OPM, the General Services Administration and other agencies have reduced its real estate footprint because of telework. For example, OPM closed a call center in Pittsburgh, saving $200,000 a year, Berry said.
“All that teleworking, the potential savings, as well as the increased resilience of our operations counts on you,” he said, referring to the roomful of government managers. “I know it can feel like a risk; many managers can get nervous about employees they just can’t swing by and see and peer over their shoulder.”
Last year’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey revealed that one-fourth of all government workers reported that although their role permits them to telework, their supervisors don’t. Those who believed management is the only obstacle to telework scored lower on all the other survey questions than those who were allowed to telework, Berry said.
“Technology and society are moving, and we can’t afford to just sit still and allow it to happen,” he said. “We need to face that future with open minds and good problem-solving skills.”
Berry also gave a nod to his GSA colleague Administrator Martha Johnson for what he called “very cutting-edge stuff” in telework, citing hoteling and “social days” when teams get together and interact face to face “and create that support structure that recognizes all of the needs of a human being.”