Survey says — VTC the solution for slow telework adoption
According to this year’s Where the Jobs Are Report by the Partnership for Public Service, the federal government is operating shorthanded, with as many as 10,000 vacancies in mission-critical positions. That is a lot of necessary positions at federal agencies and offices currently unfilled, and a lot of shoes to fill for existing government careerists. With so many jobs unfilled, the government can’t afford for its employees to miss a lot of work, or agencies can and will effectively grind to a halt. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happened this year.
First, there was the swine flu pandemic, which caused a mad scramble for continuity plans in government agencies and commercial enterprises alike. Next, a Metro accident that tragically took the lives of 9 passengers and injured close to 100 people disabled the Red Line and made it difficult, if not impossible, for Metro-dependant government employees to make it into their offices.
You would think the impact of these events alone would be catastrophic on productivity…but then the snow came. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the lovingly named “snowpocalypse” brought the federal government to its knees by dropping enough snow to keep secondary roads unplowed for days, schools closed for over a week, and productivity in ruins.
Telework is the obvious answer to keeping the government functioning even when government employees are unable to make it to their offices. However, despite the events of the past year and the millions of dollars in lost productivity, a recent survey conducted by the Government Business Council showed that only one third of the responding government employees are allowed to telework.
The survey, which was given to a total of 419 GovernmentExecutive.com and Nextgov.com visitors from civilian and defense agencies, also exposed many reasons why telework has failed to gain broader adoption. The number one reason among eligible respondents was a lack of support from management.
The fact is, many managers in government agencies are not trained to manage teleworkers. The result is a fear of having distributed employees who are out of sight, and have work out of their minds. These managers fear that the employees they can’t see are not working. In addition, there’s a fear that communication and collaboration will suffer from a distributed workforce as well.
This is why video teleconferencing (VTC) is so important in the federal government today. VTC solutions allow managers at government agencies and organizations to see their employees and interact with them face-to-face. VTC also allows non-verbal communication such as body language, which other forms of communication such as telephone and instant message do not. This ensures natural conversations as if participants were in the same room. VTC also ensures that collaboration and communication stay strong between teammates by enabling simple and immediate conferences that rival herding everyone into a conference room.
Citizens need their government agencies to always be operating, and can’t afford to lose millions of taxpayer dollars in productivity. VTC can effectively remove the largest roadblock to more rapid and widespread adoption of telework. By breaking down the walls between government employees and telework, VTC is ensuring that the next pandemic or snowmaggedon doesn’t bring the government to a halt.
If you’d like to see the full report from the recent telework study conducted by the Government Business Council, visit our resource center. Although we do ask for readers to register, there is absolutely no cost to download the report, and other useful resources on telework and VTC.