Virginia Observes Telework Day

Commonwealth encourages organizations to reduce carbon footprint by pledging to allow employees to work from home or a remote location this Monday.

The state of Virginia has proclaimed Monday, Aug. 3, as Telework Day to encourage employers to let staff stay off the roadways and telework. The goal is to drive more pervasive telework adoption across the state.

"Telework is family-friendly, business-friendly public policy that promotes workplace efficiency, reduces strain on transportation infrastructure, and provides an opportunity to ‘green' Virginia," said Governor Timothy Kaine. "We encourage organizations and individuals in Virginia to take the Telework Day pledge and see how telework can help them improve productivity and business operations, while also benefiting the environment."

In addition to offering environmental and productivity advantages, Virginia's Deputy Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson points out that Telework Day gives organizations a good opportunity to test their plans for continuity of operations amidst a disaster or pandemic.

Virginia is working with the Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the tangible value of telework, as well as its own Telework!VA program run by the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. By late July, more than 2,000 people and nearly 20 organizations pledged to telework on Telework Day.

The state itself has long been a proponent of telework. Virginia passed its first telework legislation six or seven years ago and established the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance in 2006. Jackson previously directed that agency.

She is proud of the state's strides in telework. "Our goal was to have 20 percent of the eligible state workforce teleworking by 2010," she says. Already, about 23 percent of state employees currently telework. Virginia defines that as at least one day a week or 32 hours a month, meaning there are many more workers who telework on an ad hoc basis.

Jackson cites the Virginia Department of Taxation as being in the vanguard of agencies that promote telework, noting the agency has been successful at benchmarking productivity in terms of the number of e-mails answered or the number of calls accepted. Another state office, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, employs hoteling, with some employees teleworking three to four days a week. "When they moved to their new facility, they were able to occupy less space because of the teleworking and hoteling they had in place," Jackson says.

Local government in Virginia embraces telework, too. Fairfax County, for one, enjoys a successful program, as does Loudoun County.

Jul 31 2009