Posts Tagged ‘Telework’

Software helps agencies track telework savings

June 4th, 2012

The federal government is seeking to reduce its real estate and carbon footprint. Laws, most notably the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act, support this goal, but as of yet, there are no guidelines for compliance with the mandates. One approach is to implement telework initiatives, which help agencies reduce real estate and energy expenses, while maintaining — or even increasing — efficiency and productivity.

Telework initiatives enable agencies to consolidate or eliminate underutilized offices, conference rooms or entire buildings. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, stated in The Washington Post that the Patent and Trademark Office “was able to consolidate nearly 50,000 square feet of space, thereby avoiding $1.5 million in rent per year through greater use of telework.” The agency also avoided securing $11 million in additional office space as a direct result of its telework hoteling programs.

Agencies that implement telework programs experience significant changes in the usage of rooms and resources, since fewer employees are present on a daily basis. Real estate business intelligence software enables agencies to track room and resource use and to understand trends. This enables them to make informed decisions about real estate and energy consumption.

Given the changes agencies are undergoing due to the Telework Enhancement Act and other pressures, more federal employees will telecommute and fewer will be permanently in the office. Further, when workers are at the office, they will need less dedicated space and resources.

As agencies incorporate telework, it is important to measure actual utilization. As Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., chairman of a public buildings subcommittee, told Federal Times last year, “You cannot define how much space we can get rid of or how much we need until we have a utilization factor.”

Telework programs do not eliminate the need to collaborate in the office. However, the old model of having an assigned desk and an employee-to-workspace ratio of 1-to-1 will likely be replaced by the shared-workspace model and 4-1, 5-1 or even 7-1 ratios. For example, Federal Times reported last June that renovation of the General Services Administration’s Washington office will place 87 employees into a space previously occupied by 47.

To manage this reduction of workspace and ensure that productivity is maximized when telework employees are in the office, agencies are employing reservation systems, also known as “office hoteling” programs, wherein employees remotely reserve a meeting space or desk for the duration of their visit.

In addition to eliminating the inefficiency of walking around looking for a vacant workspace, sophisticated office hoteling programs enable agencies to monitor how, when and by whom the spaces are scheduled. Occupancy detection systems go further and help uncover inefficiencies by letting agencies know if reserved spaces are used as scheduled.

Agencies can apply variations of telework to accommodate mobile workers. For example, they might arrange for workers to attend meetings in remote locations through video conferencing and telepresence technology, thereby improving productivity and work-life balance while minimizing travel time and associated costs.

In the case of adverse conditions — such as the 2010 Washington-area snowstorm that kept a quarter-million federal employees home for the better part of a week — telework can save millions of dollars.

Some experts estimated that the snowstorm-forced shutdown cost the government as much as $100 million per day in lost productivity and opportunity costs.

Measuring telework usage and identifying trends enable agencies to reap the rewards of telework initiatives and avoid the pitfalls of wasting money on unnecessary real estate, equipment and resources.

John T. Anderson is president and CEO of PeopleCube, which provides workplace management software and services.


Tech pioneer champions Calgary telework initiative

April 23rd, 2010

Companies that don’t adopt a telework strategy as part of their operations are at a “competitive disadvantage,” says one of the world’s most recognized business visionaries.

Scott McNealy, who co-founded iconic computer technology company Sun Microsystems 28 years ago, told the Herald on Wednesday that companies that adopt telework can save money as well as attract and retain employees.

“The way we organize, the way we facilitize, the way we manage our employees, assumes technology that was 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 100 years old,” said McNealy.

McNealy, considered one of the pioneers in Silicon Valley, helped build Sun Microsystems to a company that generated more than $200 billion US in revenue in nearly three decades. The former chairman of the company left when it was acquired by Oracle earlier this year.

McNealy was in Calgary as part of Calgary Telework Week with a series of public awareness events organized by the WORKshift initiative of Calgary Economic Development.

A few years ago, McNealy noticed how much office space was not being utilized at Sun Microsystems.

“Why am I spending all of this money so the people can hang a picture of their chihuahua in their dedicated office?” quipped McNealy.

A telework initiative using Java resulted in over half of the company’s employees being “homeless, as I called them,” and resulted in net savings of $80 million a year in facility costs.

“We got 10 to 15 per cent more activity per employee per week (with those teleworking) versus those who had to come into the office, and they were happier,” said McNealy.

Scott Fleming, of Teletrips in Calgary, said the company has developed a software program to collect data for companies considering telework initiatives.

The software measures the economic, social and environmental impacts for businesses and regions like Calgary.

“We’ve gone to a great extent to actually capture an inordinate amount of data so all the decisions are made on the data,” said Fleming. “The software really shows how to make these decisions based on the data that’s collected about the way you work today and what the possibilities are.”


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