The 21st century workplace is becoming more about how we work, not where we work. The workplace used to be based around hierarchical and controlled assembly lines; it is now characterized as collaborative, flexible, and mobile. Managers used to be foremen with consolidated power, but they are now facilitators, resources, guides, and coaches. Technology now lets us be more mobile, and the work we do has changed; it relies less on being watched and more on being connected and getting the work done.
GSA participated in Telework Week last week, and we had over 6,400 employees — about 50 percent of our workforce — pledge to mobilework. We encouraged employees to work from home, shared workplaces, and different offices than their own. Currently, about half of GSA’s workforce teleworks at least occasionally. Just a few months ago we announced a new policy that will extend our telework efforts even further by enabling nearly all employees to telework. Our telework policy continues to be praised as a model that other federal agencies can use to accelerate their own telework initiatives.
Telework provides many benefits for federal agencies, employees, and the environment. Through telework, we are a more flexible workforce that is able to work through natural disasters and severe weather from wherever we are. Employees find greater balance between work and personal responsibilities when working from home. Telework also reduces our carbon footprint by reducing employee commutes and our need for additional real estate. Overall, telework allows for a more agile workforce that can stay connected to colleagues and customers regardless of where they happen to be.
Telework is helping GSA to reduce our need for real estate in the National Capital Region, and it’s playing an important role in the renovation of our headquarters in downtown Washington. When finished, the building will feature collaborative and shared workspaces. Before the renovation, 2,600 employees worked out of the 1800 F Street building. When we move back to the building next year, we’ll have 4,500 employees that will call the modernized building home. When our employees need to work from the building they will always be able to find a space to work at, but we’re taking steps to ensure our workforce is more mobile so we can be productive from anywhere.
GSA has been recognized for our leadership in expanding telework, and last month we received yet another acknowledgment of our efforts; we were awarded the Excellence in Telework and Workforce Modernization award from the Government Technology Research Alliance.
In response to the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, GSA established the Telework Program Management Office dedicated to pursuing telework as a means to create a more agile and efficient government. The Telework Program Management Office is sharing its knowledge and best practices with all federal agencies because government’s ability to work anywhere, anytime is critical to how we serve the American people. Telework is allowing government to meet its mission in new and innovative ways.