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GCN : May 2016
GCN MAY 2016 • GCN.COM 35 T elework won its reputation for maintaining government agencies’ uptime in the past decade by providing workers with the digital tools they needed to keep workgroups operating and de- vices secure through large and small disruptions. During Snowzilla — last winter’s showcase storm that dumped two to three feet of snow on the Mid-Atlan- tic region and closed schools and of- fices for days — the General Services Administration said more than 3,600 of its 3,800 employees in the Wash- ington, D.C ., area were eligible to telework. Fairfax County, Va., government of- fices were forced to close, but more than 600 employees logged on via the county’s telework solution. “People here could still get to their apps to pro- vide support,” IT Infrastructure Direc- tor Jeff Porter said. Yet despite making progress, agen- cies still face sizable challenges in overseeing their telework programs, including how to equip millennial workers conditioned to a bring-your- own-tech culture and how to guide a workforce that no longer needs or wants traditional office space. Many agency telework leaders and market analysts see those challenges as interrelated and argue that a more unified approach is needed to revamp how, when and where government em- ployees telework. “For too long, telework has been deployed as a tactical solution to the problem du jour — i .e ., snowstorms, reducing real estate costs, attracting talent,” said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. “That leads to very siloed execution that leaves a lot on the table in terms of results.” Many agencies are taking a more holistic approach to addressing those demands, she added, and are begin- ning to see positive results in terms of employee retention, engagement and cost reductions. Mika Cross, a federal telework poli- cy expert who has helped oversee tele- work transitions at several agencies in the past 20 years, also sees progress in using telework to integrate workforce management silos. “It might have started as a way to save costs, [but] now you have con- versations taking place at the highest level of these agencies about telework as an integrated approach to solving issues relative to space utilization, hu- man capital, information technology strategies as well as costs savings,” she said. “Ultimately, agencies are becom- ing more efficient because it forces the conversation on these questions,” Cross added. THE FEMA HOTEL The Federal Emergency Management Agency has responded to workforce changes by tapping cross-department support from its IT, human resources and real estate teams to help man- age what officials call a workforce transformation. FEMA’s plan expands its telework force and emphasizes the mobile tools and training employees need to do their jobs. “One of the keys is that ev- erybody has the technology required in order to be mobile,” FEMA CIO Adrian Gardner said. By giving more employees the abil- ity to work anywhere using mobile de- vices and collaborative apps, they will require less long-term office space, which is prompting the agency to look for opportunities to “flatten” the con- ventional real estate it maintains. As a result, FEMA has opted for a “hoteling” approach to its smaller workforce space. The approach in- volves restructuring standard offices as team rooms in a range of sizes and capabilities to accommodate more dy- namic meeting requirements. For technology-enhanced collabora- tion, FEMA offers workers a range of connectivity applications to facilitate group meetings and one-on-one ses- sions, including Microsoft Lync (now Skype for Business), Adobe Connect, Citrix GoToMeeting and Cisco Jabber. Agencies still face sizable challenges in overseeing their telework programs, including adapting to today ’s bring-your-own-tech culture and managing a workforce that no longer needs or wants traditional office space BY PAUL Mc CLOSKEY NEXT-GENERATION TELEWORK SHUTTERSTOCK/1105MEDIA 0516gcn_034-040.indd 35 4/26/16 9:28 AM
March and April 2016
June and July 2016