HJR 144: Joint Subcommittee to Study Telework
Opportunities for State and Private Sector Employees
September 14, 2006
The Joint Subcommittee
studying telework opportunities in the Commonwealth held its second meeting
on September 14, 2006, at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon.
Guest speakers from state agencies and local governments were invited
to the meeting to speak on the implementation of successful telework programs.
of Telework Programs
Chianese - Assistant to the Fairfax County Executive
Ms. Chianese discussed Fairfax County's 10 year-old telework program,
which is now ingrained in county government and is no longer hindered
with some of the cultural hurdles that newer telework programs face. This
year, the county met the goal of having 20% of the eligible workforce
telecommute, a goal set by the chairman of the board of supervisors in
2001. She noted that having this kind of goal and support from the highest
level of government was very important in the success of the program.
Fairfax County's success can be attributed to its reinvigoration of the
telework program after the 2001 announcement by:
a brand and a logo for its telework program.
• Developing training tracks tailored to management and workers.
• Allowing the telework program to operate in a decentralized manner,
which permits each department to figure out how to adapt the program to
meet their needs.
- Telework Program Manager for Loudoun County
Ms. O'Grady discussed Loudon County's experiences with telework. The county
had previously established a program in 1996, but it was put on hold.
Because the county faced a lack of space for its increasing workforce
and growing traffic problems, the board of supervisors decided to reinvigorate
the program in 2005. The county saw telework as a tool for work retention
and wanted to build a model that private businesses could follow. The
county's IT Department played an important role in the successful deployment
of telework through:
new tools into the program.
• Revising work processes.
• Developing a standard telework tool kit for users.
Loudoun County has
focused on the opportunities that telework provides for continuity of
operations in the event of an emergency or disaster. The county encourages
telework participants to work from home at least one day a month.
- Assistant Tax Commissioner, Compliance Division
Mr. Jordan stated that the Department of Taxation (the Department) closed
two of its nine district offices in 2000 and 49 workers from these offices
began to telecommute full-time. In 2003, due to fiscal constraints, the
other regional offices were also closed, bringing the total number of
teleworkers to well over 200. He stated that in his experience, most teleworkers
adjusted rapidly to the new policy, even in situations where there had
been resistance. While it is more difficult to measure teleworking at
home, productivity rises for most workers. Some employees do not work
as well from home, and the Depart-ment did find the need to let go five
of its employees. The Department has set a new goal transitioning 150
employees from its Richmond offices to begin teleworking. Currently, the
Department is spread out among four different offices in Virginia, and
it would like to be in one facility and eventu-ally be capable of hiring
an applicant from anywhere in the Commonwealth for any job opening it
may have. Mr. Jordan shared the following important lessons he felt the
Department had learned in the course of implementing its telework program:
• A solid technology
infrastructure is important.
• Employers need to listen to what employees say they need to do
their job from home, in terms of equipment and support.
• Employers need to be prepared to confront low-performing employees
with real data and numbers and be prepared to let them go if necessary.
• An involuntary telework plan is not problematic.
• Supporting teleworkers should be part of a manager's performance
plan and evaluation.
• Anyone should be allowed to telework, and the opportunity should
not be reserved for only the highest performing employees.
of Technology Aneesh P. Chopra
Secretary Chopra announced that the Department of Taxation has offered
to act as the lead agency for state telework pilot program. He also described
Executive Order 35 that announced the formation of the Office of Telework
Promotion and Broadband Assistance in the executive branch. The new office
is a collaborative, cross-secretariat effort to link supply of broadband
with the need for increased telework, telemedicine, and teleeducation.
The Governor announced a goal of having 20% of the eligible workforce
at each state agency teleworking at least one day a week by 2010. The
three underlying initiatives behind this effort are to reform government
operations, alleviate traffic congestion, and to pursue eco-nomic development
opportunities through telework.
of Administration Viola O. Baskerville
Secretary Baskerville shared the results of a telework survey that had
just been received by the Department of Human Resource Management. The
survey solicited state agency input regarding the number of employees
telecommuting at each agency, the inclusion of telework in the continuity
of operations plans, and perceived benefits of and barriers to telework.
Of the survey results received before the meeting, representing approximately
half of the state agencies, there were 2,067 positions designated eligible
to telecommute and 1,469 employees were involved in a telecommut-ing program.
Secretary Baskerville also provided a copy of a leadership memorandum
distributed to all agencies about current telework requirements, as well
as an overview of telework best practices compiled by IBM for the Commonwealth,
which may be obtained free of charge.
Members asked for
more information to be provided at the next meeting regarding what types
of positions in the state were being designated as ineligible, and why
there were not more eligible positions. The top perceived benefits of
telework include commuter costs savings, increased employee satisfaction,
and flexibility. Barriers include the cost of IT equipment and support,
a diminished access to work resources, and the loss of a traditional office
As soon as information
is available regarding the next meeting of the joint subcommittee it will
be posted on the internet on the General Assembly calendar on the study
website sponsored by DLS.
The Hon. Timothy
Patrick Cushing, and Amigo Wade, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2006
| Legislative Services | General