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Telework as alternative commute touted

The area's largest employer--the federal government--is hoping some of its employers will make a change in their commute: forgoing the commute entirely in favor of tele-work, especially when factors like weather make getting into the office nearly impossible.

That was the sentiment at a Telework Town Hall Meeting today downtown.

"The wider use and acceptance of telework is very much on the verge of reality. The Senate unanimously passed telework legislation last month and the House could do so during the lame-duck session. The bill would require federal agencies to appoint telework managers and incorporate the option into contingency operations," reports our colleague Ed O'Keefe.

"Once it's passed, Berry, Johnson and others plan to make the option automatic for all federal employees who could do their jobs away from the office. (Zookeepers, park rangers, law enforcement officers, doctors, and officials with access to sensitive information obviously can't do it.)."

For one group of employees, especially, working from home could avoid considerable headache, as the Base Realignment and Closure program that would shift jobs away from areas served by Metro and threatens to overwhelm the area's transportation infrastructure.

About 20,000 defense workers are being moved to car-dependent sites along the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia; BRAC changes will create at least two choke points along I-95: near Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County and at the Mark Center, the Post's Miranda Spivack has reported.

In past military base moves, many employees either relocated, purchasing homes closer to the new base, or found other employment. But one of the many impacts of the Internet may be that such drastic measures aren't always necessary.

And for workers in general, it may mean that they can enjoy the convenience of working from home while keeping one less car off the road or body off the Metro--making life easier for other travelers. For employers, the flip side is that when, in the past, storms or other crises shuttered offices for days and decreased productivity, those who can work from home no longer have an excuse not to put in hours.

"The president made it clear to me that he doesn't want snow, nature, or any other cause, to be able to stop our government," John Berry, the government's personnel chief, told the telework conference.

Should more workers telework? Do you already or would you like to? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Luke Rosiak  | October 7, 2010; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting, Transportation Politics  | Tags:  Teleworking  
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Yes--it should be an option. It's greener and more flexible, and it gives people more choices.

One caveat is that employers should be aware that, in severe snowstorms like the ones we had last winter, employees may not be able to simply sit at their home computer for eight hours. For one thing, plenty of people don't have electricity in these circumstances. There may also be hours of snow to shovel, food to try to preserve, children to watch, other people to coordinate computer use with, etc. Basically, hopefully employers would understand that the same circumstances keeping people from coming to the office may also keep them from being able to do work at home.

Posted by: DOEJN | October 8, 2010 3:50 AM | Report abuse

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