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Blog // Connect Michigan

Telework and Corporate Culture

By Wil Payton

The challenges of implementing telework policies

Thirty-two percent of federal workers are eligible to telework according to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report on the Status of Telework in the Federal Government. However, less than 25 percent actually exercise this option.

The OPM report emphasizes that “telework can make employees more efficient, more accountable, and more resilient in emergency conditions...”

Telework programs offer a significant life-enhancement component as well. Take the economic and environmental impact on individuals far removed from the nation’s capital as an example.

A Connect Minnesota Telework report noted that the average commuter in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area spends 225 hours, or 9 days, traveling to and from work during the course of a year. A reduction of this time spent traveling can make a major difference in an employee’s personal life.

Teleworking can also help Minnesota workers save money. By spending less time driving, they spend less money on gas and reduce costs associated with vehicle maintenance. Each teleworker saves an average of $343.16 on car maintenance and prevents 1,411 pounds of CO2 emissions entering the atmosphere. Across the state, this equals nearly $196 million saved and 804 million fewer pounds of CO2 emissions each year as a result of teleworking

Phasing in a telework program requires buy-in from managers who are sometimes apprehensive about such an extensive departure from the workplace norm. The OPM report also notes that “… not all managers are comfortable directing employees who telework; agencies’ ability to track and report telework metrics vary; and a lack of prior data makes comparisons to past telework metrics difficult.”

Below is an extract from a Washington Post article that delves into the conflict in corporate culture that exist regarding the implementation of a telework policy:

“For many managers, reluctance to allow telework is rooted in uncertainty about managing individual performance,” said Justin Johnson, OPM’s deputy chief of staff. “Telework requires a new mind-set, and it changes the dynamics of the work and the workplace in ways that not everyone feels competent to manage. All managers need to get more comfortable with managing by results rather than process and time in the office.”

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