Archive for category Telework

8 Values of Teleworking on a Snow Day or Any Day

benefits of teleworkToday is a snow day for government employees in DC. Oh, wait, never mind. You still have to get to the office but you are allowed a two-hour delayed arrival time due to inclement weather in the DC area. Some federal government employees may choose to brave the weather and make their way through the snow to get to work, while others will take advantage of the opportunity to take an unscheduled telework day.

Those that choose the latter will reap the benefits of several values that come along with teleworking, according to a study, that also includes a ROI Toolkit, conducted by the Mobile Work Exchange in conjunction with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The findings review the advantages that not only individual government employees enjoy by teleworking but the value that the agency benefits from by authorizing more employees to work in a mobile work environment.

Commuting costs – By teleworking at least one day per week; employees can save time and money on their commute. This benefit is primarily for the employee, however, the agency can still use this value to increase a current employee’s commitment or attract new talent to the agency.

Transit subsidies – This value helps agencies save money by reducing the amount of transit subsidies processed by employees who are able to decrease their commuting miles or work from a mobile location.

Environmental impact – Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama in October 2009, requires agencies to meet a standard reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This teleworking value can support agencies’ efforts in meeting that goal and help the environment. Employees are also able to use less transportation, thus reducing their carbon footprint.

Continuity of operations (COOP) – A disruption in business operations can cost millions in lost productivity. We’ve seen evidence of this in unexpected office closures due to harsh weather in the past, as well as during the government shutdown late last year. Agencies can avoid this by ensuring that their staff is able to do their jobs from home or other remote locations.

Productivity – Many teleworkers report an increase in productivity and an increase in actual amount of time spent working when they telework due to less distractions and the elimination of the time required to commute to and from the office.

Recruitment/retention – As employees try to find the right work/life balance, many are praising the ability to telework as a means to achieving that perfect balance. This flexibility helps agencies retain their top talent and avoid the high cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training new employees.

Real estate – Desk sharing and hotel spaces are two ways agencies can reduce the amount of office space required by its employees. Federal workers can collaborate with one another and coordinate their schedules so each can utilize the same office space on varying days of the week, eliminating the need for more desk space.

Utilities – In turn, when agencies eliminate the need for so much office space, utilities such as gas, electric, and water are reduced and the agency is able to save on those costs. During Telework Week 2012, USDA asked eligible employees to telework one day per week. Following that week, the agency calculated the cost savings on utilities to be equivalent to what 50 homes would use over the course of one week. Imagine if more agencies adopted this policy more often!

Telework Week 2014 just around the corner! Last year, over 136,000 government employees participated in Telework Week saving $12.3 million in commuting costs, reclaiming 665,936 hours back into their day, eliminating 7,892 tons of pollutants from the air, and saving 12.1 million driving miles. Now isn’t that better than a two-hour delayed start time? Pledge to telework the week of March 3-7 and reap the benefits for both you and your agency.

Share how teleworking has saved your agency money.

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Struggling To Keep Your High-Performing Employees? Try Teleworking.

87% of employees reported that telework has a positive impact on their work/life balance.

Budget cuts government-wide have forced leaders to “do more with less” and focus on innovation within their agency. As a result of this, many senior executives are struggling to provide a work environment that incorporates high-performing teams, a work/life balance, and employee interest to stay with and support the agency long-term. A new report to the President and Congress by the United States Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) may be just the answer agency leaders have been looking for to address these concerns.

Research on workplace flexibility has found that not only does teleworking benefit employees, it also benefits the organization. The snow storm that hit DC in 2009 left many federal employees unable to get to their place of employment. The result of the forced shutdown was estimated at costing the government $100 million per day in lost productivity and opportunity costs. If agencies had a telework policy in place, employees would have had the opportunity to work from home or another easily accessible location to get their work done, despite the snow storm. In addition, agencies that allow their workers the option to telework are more apt to recruit and secure high quality employees due to the attractiveness of the work/life balance mobile working offers.

Telework; Weighing the Information, Determining an Appropriate Approach, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, October 2011

If the government is requiring agencies to be innovative in light of the recent budget cuts, managers and supervisors need to provide incentives that will keep these high performing employees working for them. Teleworking is a benefit that would have a direct impact for employees by reducing commute times, freeing up more personal time after work, and empowering employees to work when they are at their most optimal. All of these factors have been found to empower and motivate employees and, in turn, increase performance and results.

Telework; Weighing the Information, Determining an Appropriate Approach, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, October 2011

The Ken Blanchard Companies along with Training magazine conducted a survey to further explore how to create employee work passion. One question asked what influenced employees to remain with their organization the most. The survey conveyed several factors that impacted employees differently based on their work experiences. The factors that were ranked include:

Job Factors – Autonomy, Meaningful Work, Feedback, Workload Balance, and Task Variety

Organizational Factors – Collaboration, Performance, Expectations, Growth, Procedural Justice (process fairness), and Distributive Justice (rewards, pay, and benefits)

Relationship Factors – Connectedness with Colleagues and Connectedness with Leader

The research that was conducted reveals that employees are constantly making appraisals of their work experiences and these appraisals result in intentions to stay, to use discretionary effort, to perform at a higher than average level, and to endorse the organization and its leadership.

Want to learn about more ways to create an environment where people want to come to work and give their best? Log on to the live webinar at 9:00am PST/12:00pm EST today about cultivating employee work passion.

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Can Teleworkers Really Be Productive?

President Obama once said, “work is what you do, not where you do it” in a White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility. His comment was in support of teleworking to achieving resilient workplaces. However, teleworking has recently received a bad rap from a nationwide survey conducted by CareerBuilderearlier this year. The study involved almost 5,300 Americans that worked from home or some other remote locati

Telework can lead to increased productivity with the right leadership and focus.

on on a regular basis. What the survey uncovered was astounding. Only 35% of teleworkers said they work eight hours or more with 17% admitting to only working one hour or less in a typical day. Thirty-one percent of participants listed household chores as a main distraction while working from home followed by twenty-six percent listed television as the culprit keeping them from getting their work done.

Although the survey excluded government employees, you have to wonder how much of what the research uncovered is true in the public sector. Cindy Auten, General Manager at the Telework Exchange explains that telework policies and standards are stricter in the public sector compared to those enforced in the private sector. “There are a lot of performance management standards to uphold in the federal government, and in the private sector it’s really interesting that people can actually get away with not working.  That begs the question, how are they measured?” says Auten.  According to another study entitled, Federal Telework Progress Report: Making the Grade?, the majority of agencies are compliant with the initial goals of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.

The research from this study does not lend a hand to the major hindrance in implementing telework.  Managers have been apprehensive in allowing their direct reports to work in a remote location. This apprehension stems from a lack of keeping up-to-date on what their employees are working on while they are away from the office. The Department of Energy has been successful in overcoming this barrier by encouraging mangers to embrace the resistance they have when it comes to telework. The agency currently has more than 80 percent of its 265 employees working in a telework environment and expect that number to grow to 95%. Senior Consulting Partner, Carmela Southers with The Ken Blanchard Companies explains, “Managers can make a mistake by overdoing performance management, without also managing the relationship. When that happens, people lose their level of engagement and feel that you only care about them for what they can produce. This can be particularly troublesome in a virtual relationship because remote workers can be more susceptible to leaving.”

Southers lists three strategies to be more successful in managing teleworkers:

  1. Be creative when it comes to relationship building
  2. Improve productivity, focus on structure
  3. Recognize that IT systems might have to change

Read more about how managers can remove their resistance to teleworking and support their direct reports in a virtual setting.

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Building Trust and Employee Engagement During Change

How can you provide a new level of leadership even when leading remotely with limited "face time?"

Recent changes within the government have given federal employees cause for concern.  Reduced resources, shifting priorities, and environment and political changes can have a de-motivating effect on employees and directly impact work relationships.  As changes are introduced in agencies, it is vital that employees remain engaged, motivated, and empowered. 

The Ken Blanchard Companies will be hosting a Government Executive Briefing featuring leadership and development professionals that will share their insights on how trust and employee engagement can have a positive influence on change in the public sector. 

What you’ll learn:

  • Discover how you can increase competence and commitment through change.
  • Learn strategies and techniques you can use to improve employee performance, motivation, and productivity.
  • Understand the importance of trust and ways to create more effective relationships.

Immediately following the Executive Briefing, be sure to join us to learn important skill building tactics on how to integrate the latest motivation strategies into everyday management and operational practices during times of change.  You will also discover disciplines that will enable you to effectively lead those working in a remote environment.

Speakers include:

Ken Blanchard, Cofounder – The Ken Blanchard Companies

Sharon Ridings, National Training Manager – Environmental Protection Agency

Drea Zigarmi, PhD, Researcher, Author, Professor – The Ken Blanchard Companies

Susan Fowler, Senior Consulting Partner – Ken Blanchard Companies

Date, Location & Registration:

June 1, 2011 – Washington, DC

Executive Briefing – 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Skill-Building Event (includes lunch) – 12:10 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

For more information or to reserve your seat now, call Christine Simmons at 800-272-3933.

The Ken Blanchard Companies has been awarded a contract under Schedules 874-4 – Mission Oriented business s Integrated Services (MOBIS) by the General Services Administration (GSA), contract Number: GS-02-F-0154U, MOBIS Training Services.

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The Future of Flexible Work Schedules

The work environment that most Americans are familiar with is one that requires them to be at the office for a set amount of time each day, regardless of whether they get their work done or not.  Sure, some of us have a well defined flex schedule and can work from home if necessary but how would you like to work on your terms?  How would your life change if you had the opportunity to work when you want, how you want, and where you want?  That is exactly the type of work environment that Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson are piloting with the Office of Personnel Management.

The way, when, where, and how we work is changing.

Ressler and Thompson created a work environment called Results-Only work Environment (ROWE).  ROWE is a management strategy that focuses strictly on the results that employees produce, not the presence they have at the office.  This allows employees to create a sought after work/life balance.

A results-only work environment promises the following benefits:

  • Allows you to set your own work schedule
  • Puts you responsible for results
  • Promotes a healthier, less stressful lifestyle
  • Autonomy and accountability
  • Environmentally friendly – no commuting
  • Increases productivity and efficiency
  • Retain and attract top talent

OPM’s John Berry was so impressed with this new workforce flexibility program that he announced that he was implementing a pilot program with 400 of the agency’s employees.  If the pilot is a success, OPM will expand it within the agency and encourage other Federal agencies to execute the program government-wide.  The program’s intent is to increase employee performance and morale and empower them to get the job done.

The Ken Blanchard Companies defines empowerment as the creation of an organizational climate that releases the knowledge, experience, and motivation that reside in people.  It is what leaders give to their people.  Self leadership is what people do to make empowerment work.   The ROWE program does just that by giving managers a new way to lead their direct reports and entrust them to take full responsibility to get their work done on their own time.

But is this new flex schedule right for everyone?  The creators of ROWE have reported an average increase in productivity of 35%, and a 90% decrease in voluntary turnover rates.  The pilot being tested at OPM is being evaluated by Deloitte.  A full report on their findings is scheduled to be published in February 2011.

What advantages/disadvantages would you expect if your organization implemented a ROWE work environment?

You can click here to learn more about how to create a motivating and empowering workplace.

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Hey Boss, I’ll be working from home today.

The benefits of telework have been proved in the public and private sectors.

The Telework Improvement Act 2010 was approved by both the House and Senate.  This is great news for eligible federal government workers who wish to work from home, unless their managers don’t fully feel comfortable with the idea.  According to the 2009 Telework Report, one of the biggest hurdles in fully implementing the Telework Act is management’s resistance.

What is causing this resistance among managers? 

Managers aren’t necessarily opposed to the actual Telework Act.  The issues that are keeping them on the fence are making sure their employees are getting the work done, that they are accessible, and that they are adhering to the telework policies.  These are common concerns of managers who have never led virtually before.  What they don’t realize is that these issues are expressed behaviorally to their direct reports as “lack of trust.”    Low levels of trust have the direct economic impact of high turnover, absenteeism, low morale, stifled innovation, challenged decisions, inefficiency, and often damaged customer relationships. 

How can leaders quiet their fears about telework and build morale and trust with their employees?  One way is by learning some important principles about leading virtually.

Ken Blanchard encourages managers to adhere to these three disciplines of leading virtually.

  • Discipline I: Focus Attentiveness— Attentiveness means knowing the goals, motivation, needs, and experiences of team members and recognizing when changes occur. Since working effectively in a virtual environment requires high levels of independence, leaders must consistently communicate their desire to connect with the personality and experiences of those with whom they work.
  • Discipline II: Foster Community—Most of us are unaware of how much we connect to an organization and a team by being on-site. We pick up cultural clues and norms by observing behavior, dress, language, behavioral norms, and communication patterns. Effective virtual leaders work diligently to connect team members to the larger organization by actively facilitating collaboration, creating the team culture, and helping virtual workers unite to build community spirit.
  • Discipline III: Accelerate Development—It is too easy to lose track of the development needs of people who work virtually. Virtual leaders need to stay focused on team members’ career and personal goals and find ways for them to develop. This increases satisfaction, builds loyalty, and creates a more valuable employee.

 How are you keeping the lines of communication open and building trust with your manger or direct report when you’re working from home?

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Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Released

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (formerly the Federal Human Capital Survey) was released this week. This survey was designed to measure Federal employees’ perceptions about how effectively agencies are managing their workforces.

Conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), over a quarter-million Federal workers responded to the survey. “President Obama has made it clear: the Federal government needs to deliver results for the taxpayers. Our civil servants are the people who deliver those results, and we at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management are doing everything we can to make them the best, most productive workers in the world,” said OPM Director John Berry.

Below you’ll find some highlights of the results:

• 5% increase in belief that organizations’ leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.
• 4% increase in having high level of respect for organization’s senior leaders.
• 4% increase in feeling that leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment, but scores on this item are still below 50 percent favorability.
• Less than half of respondents thought that promotions were based on merit, that pay raises were connected with job performance or that steps were taken to deal with poor performers.
• There are 3-5% increases in supervisor performance discussions seen as worthwhile, perceptions that performance appraisals are fair and differences in performance are recognized.

This survey is conducted every two years. Here are some interesting trends from the past three surveys (2006, 2008, and 2010):

• I have trust and confidence in my supervisor: 2006 – 63.8%; 2008 – 64.2%; 2010 – 66.5%
• I have a high level of respect for my organization’s senior leaders: 2006 – 49.5%; 2008 – 52.1%; 2010 – 55.6%
• How satisfied are you with the work/life programs in your agency: 2006 – 38.6%; 2008 – 39.9%; 2010 – 35.4%

To read the entire report, visit the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s website.

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