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Telework is in a huge growth phase

We’re on the verge of something really cool … and it’s going worldwide.

Telecommuting isn’t just a trend, or a neat, new fad. It’s becoming a very ingrained part of our work culture.

Australia seems to be a trailblazing country. The country declared November 12-16 the first National Telework Week and its Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has said 12 per cent of Australia’s public service work force will regularly telecommute by 2020.

In Canada, most of the Top 100 Employers offer a range of “alternative work arrangements,” including flexible hours, telecommuting, job sharing, shortened workweek options and reduced summer hours.

As reported by The Globe and Mail in October, employers are embracing more flexible arrangements to promote a better work-life balance for their workers.

They seem to be catching on that happy, less stressed-out employees are better at getting their jobs done! And we can’t help but agree.

We’ve written about how telecommuting makes us more productive. Telework, with fewer people making the trek back and forth to the office, eases our day-to-day pressure on the environment and gets us to the “office” quicker, by virtue of the office being right in our homes.

From a few stories we’ve been reading on the web, telecommuting and remote work are really catching on in the United States, too.

Baltimore County recently introduced a new telecommuting policy for county employees. The policy allows for some employees to work from home up to half of their schedules. It’s aimed at reducing the environmental impact of daily commuting and at increasing employee productivity and satisfaction.

The Conduit Street blog, operated by the Maryland Association of Counties, writes that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz described how he hopes the policy will attract employees to the public sector and improve employee retention.

“Especially in competitive fields like information technology, the opportunity to work from home can be a valuable job benefit that helps attract and retain talented employees,” he said.

The American federal government is also generating a push to keeping employees at home. Everyone learned a great deal about telework benefits during Hurricane Sandy, when some government operations might have ground to a halt were it not for telecommuting workers.

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows that the Telework Act of 2010 has created more teleworking opportunities for federal employees.

Look at these numbers:

✔ In 2011, one in four federal employees were eligible to telework. That increased to one in three in 2012.

✔ Six out of 10 employees of the General Services Administration and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation telecommute at least once or twice a month.

✔ Three-quarters of employees at the National Science Foundation, Department of Education and Office of Personnel Management work remotely for part of their schedules.

✔ The employees who reported as telecommuters returned higher engagement levels than their peers who worked out of the office, 71 per cent vs 64 per cent.

We need to remember, though, that as telecommuters we are responsible for having our home offices equipped properly.

Even the Baltimore County policy demands it.

“Participating employees must have adequate technology at home to support teleworking, including internet connectivity and telephone access,” the policy reads.

Having a home office ready to go and set up to support your employer’s needs is part of building the trust that paves the way to you working at home.

How teched out is your home and ready to go?

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