Study: Fed Telecommute Practices a Qualified Success

Study: Fed Telecommute Practices a Qualified Success

By Gail Repsher, Staff Writer

AUG. 4 ? The U.S. government's early experiments with employee telecommuting demonstrate that alternative work arrangements can improve the quality of work life and customer service, according to a new report funded by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

But the report also concluded that resistance among managers and inadequate resources limit the potential of telecommuting.

"Managing Telecommuting in the Federal Government: An Interim Report," found that telecommuting encompasses a variety of employee grade levels, job titles and tasks. But federal practices do not provide adequate resources to make telecommuting feasible or effective for many workers.

"Inadequate funding levels result in technological scrimping, lack of training for managers and workers results in a 'make-do' attitude, and governmental managerial uncertainty has created an environment antithetical to a commitment to teleworking," the report said.

"While there are many good reasons to undertake telecommuting, there continues to be resistance to the practice among many managers. With continued research on the telecommuting experience, the federal government will gain increased understanding of the types of work and the workers most likely to succeed in telecommuting," said Ian Littman, co-chairman of the endowment, which is based in Arlington, Va.

The report recommends that agencies underwrite the set-up costs of formal telecommuting arrangements and provide consistent allocation of resources and compatibility of equipment. They also suggest that different approaches to telecommuting be compared in terms of costs and resources, both human and fiscal, before encouraging further development.

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