In the beginning there was Telework Day, an effort in conjunction with the government of Virginia to encourage residents to reduce commutes and energy consumption. The result was 4,000 people statewide pledging to telework August 3, 2009. Telework Day saved pledges $124K in commuting costs and reduced emissions by 82 tons.
Thanks to these savings, the program expanded quickly, going from a day to a Telework Week in 2011 and drawing 39,000 pledges. Telework Week 2012 followed with 71,000. But it wasn't until this year when we really saw the big bang of telework - 136,000 pledges.
Hosted by Mobile Work Exchange, Cisco, and Citrix, Telework Week 2013 attracted people with more force than ever before. Telework Week 2013 saw a 91 percent increase in pledges over Telework Week 2012 - and approximately 3.5 times the number of pledges in 2011. The rate of growth is comparable another recent quantum leap - the first two years of iPhone sales.
So, with this Telework Week boom, what did we learn about teleworkers? Well, for starters, most who participated (82 percent) were Federal government employees. Additionally, the average Telework Week pledge saved an average of four hours and $90 in commuting costs for the week. Not bad for a galaxy that is still trying to rebuild its economy.
Big Bang Savings
The overall savings were pretty astronomical, too. Cumulatively, Telework Week pledges saved $12.3 million in commuting costs, spared the environment 7,892 tons in CO2 emissions, and gained back 665,936 hours thanks to reduced commutes.
In fact, if all Telework Week pledges teleworked for one year, they would collectively save $614.2 million in commuting costs.
During Telework Week, pledges used a laptop, phone, email, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect. With more and more people using their own mobile devices for work, making sure the right security protocols and guidelines are in place is more important than ever.
"As we move toward a more mobile workforce, it is imperative for public sector organizations to provide employees with highly secure access to information to better serve constituents," said Patrick Finn, senior vice president of U.S. Public Sector at Cisco.
However, security has been something of a black hole. While 92 percent of organizations said they are encouraging on telework, just 11 percent say they currently have an official Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place.
It's clear telework is heating up and its reach is expanding at a rapid rate.
"The surge of Telework Week 2013 participants proves the need for technology services that can enable today's mobile workforce," said Tom Simmons, Area Vice President of Public Sector at Citrix. Couldn't agree more, Tom.
So, what's next?
First, agencies and organizations that still haven't adopted telework should look for a way to integrate it into their everyday operations. This will help you be prepared when you absolutely need to telework - like in cases of inclement weather.
Additionally, managers and employees should participate in training to ensure they know how to properly use the mobility tools at their disposal and best practices in keeping communication going while working remotely.
Finally, tech infrastructure and policies must be implemented in order to support the growing mobile workforce. Telework's kinetic energy shows no signs of slowing down, so we must keep up.
"As we move towards becoming a mobile workforce, we are not only changing the way we work, but we are also changing the tools to make employees more productive, efficient, and responsive," said Nicole Early, Telework Managing Officer and Deputy Chief Component Human Capital Officer, FEMA.
To download the full report, visit www.mobileworkexchange.com/teleworkweek. I've been asked, so what's next? Well, the sky's the limit next year for Telework Week. With the influx of mobile devices usage, we really can work anywhere.
Thank you to all of the Telework Week pledges for your support - it certainly was a Telework Supernova.
Cindy Auten is the general manager for Mobile Work Exchange and watches the Big Bang Theory, but you probably guessed that already.