03/06/2012 06:05 pm ET Updated May 06, 2012

Please Just Dial My Extension: I'm Teleworking Today

Telework Exchange has dubbed this week, March 5-9, 2012 as Telework Week. This is the second year that this organization encourages agencies, organizations and individuals to pledge to telework during the week.

This is a great idea! I know for a fact that there are many organizations that have telework as part of their flexibility offerings. Our own WorldatWork Survey on Workplace Flexibility shows telework on an ad-hoc basis as one of the top three flexibility offerings (83%.) But how much a part of the norm is it if we are asking for everyone to still make a pledge to it?

So, I decided to do my own "Google" research to see if perhaps the word is just not getting out about Telework and everything that it has to offer. In just searching the terms below themselves, these are the hits I'm coming up with: Telework benefits employees: 18.5 million results
  • Not surprising since most flexibility typically begins when the employee needs some form of flexibility accommodation. These are usually considered one-time deals and many times supervisors don't want everyone else knowing. "If it's offered to one - everyone will want it"
  • Employees that want to telework should write up a proposal to present to their immediate supervisor telling why it's being requested, how the work will be done and how communication between supervisor, co-workers and customers (if applicable) will occur.

Telework benefits for employers: 16.4 million results

For sure. Sometimes it surprises me how we aren't seeing all the ways that telework can enhance the business. Let me count the ways:
  • Attraction and retention
  • Business continuity
  • Real estate savings
  • Productivity enhancement
Telework benefits employers, employees and the environment: 1.64 million results
  • Reducing carbon emissions through teleworking is a great environmental reason to consider such a program. And in addition to that, let's also consider the price of gas, with the expectation that it will rise even higher before the end of this year. Everyone ready for $5 per gallon -- and more?
Obstacles to Telework: 970,000
  • Senior Management buy-in
  • Supervisor buy-in, a need for "face time"
  • Organizational culture

When senior management buys into Telework -- and I mean really buys into it, then we can really see the gauge start to move on creating a culture of flexibility. It begins to become pervasive throughout the organization. Telework and all forms of flexibility become much more a part of the strategic fabric; training is given to supervisors and employees and communication plans are set up to help it become part of the daily vernacular.

So even with all the searches that I came across, and the additional information I provided, it would appear that we still have some naysayers -- that we still need to have a Telework week where we pledge to try teleworking. Sometimes I wonder how far into the future will it be before we first consider not where we work -- but how we work.

And if you would prefer to not have to sift through a plethora of searches, the WorldatWork website has an easy one click One Stop Topic where we've put some great resources for the employer to view how Telework can enhance that Holy Grail, the employee-employer value proposition.