It’s early in 2014 and the first snowstorm of the year has already hit the Washington D.C. area. Although a heavy snow can be enchanting, looks are deceiving. Snow causes chaos – from traffic nightmares on the beltway to citywide shutdowns of businesses, schools, and government agencies, D.C. can literally come to a screeching halt and this loss of productivity has disastrous financial impacts.
Based on data from the Washington Post it was estimated that each snow day that closed federal government offices in 2010 cost $71,074,495.The upside is that these snow days could have been far more costly, if it had not been for the 30 percent of federal workers who were able to telework during the storm. According to former OPM Director, John Berry, without teleworkers the costs of lost productivity would have been well over $100 million. For only a third of the costs in loss productivity from a single snow day, according to a Citrix report, it is estimated that telework could be implemented throughout the government. Any increase above 30 percent would help further reduce the costs of lost productivity.
While it seems perfectly reasonable that the federal government invests in across the board implementation of telework, there are still a few challenges. The biggest of which is a fundamental shift in how agency stakeholders view and implement telework. It must be viewed as a strategic organizational shift as opposed to an individual benefit.
For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) embraced telework as a strategic organizational platform and the agency saved millions of dollars on property costs. Federal Technology Insider recently highlighted the GSA’s approach to telework as a benchmark for other agencies. Daniel Tangherlini, Administrator of the GSA said an agency-wide culture shift was the first step to the implementation of a successful telework initiative. Once the mindset shifted, the real estate, organizational floor plans with hoteling, and cloud-based technology solutions followed.
According to the Citrix report, many federal agencies have not taken the strategic approach that the GSA followed and instead, have let telework happen rather than make it happen. In doing so, Citrix warns that they have potentially left a lot on the table in terms of costs, efficiency and productivity impacts.
Whether it’s a snow day, or other weather-related issue, being prepared for what Mother Nature brings will financially benefit the government and its agencies.
Click here to read the full Citrix report, Federal Telework: Obstacles and Opportunities.