A new report says that there is significant room for improvement in the government's encouragement of telecommuting for federal workers.
The report, written by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, says that while video conferencing technology has given managers many cost-saving options to allow employees to work from home, less than 6 percent of all full-time federal workers work from home even one day per month, and just 44 of 78 government agencies have integrated telecommuting in their operations plans.
Researchers say that government officials should aim to have 600,000 workers telecommuting by 2014 - nearly a six-fold increase.
The report also highlights one federal agency that is breaking the trend and fully embracing telecommuting - the federal Patent and Trademark Office. The PTO has made more than 80 percent of its employees eligible for telework, and nearly half of the agency's staff works from home at least once a week. That arrangement helped the agency avoid purchasing more office space - at a savings of $11 million.
As the growth of telecommuting among government workers has slowed, private sector employees have helped fuel a rapid growth of the industry. A report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation predicted last year that 19 million people would work from home by 2021.