May 24 2013

FEMA Is Ready for Anything — Even Telework

Agency applies disaster-recovery strategy to mobile workers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has emerged as a telework leader in the government. The agency recently participated in Mobile Work Exchange’s Telework Week, and FEMA deputy chief administrative officer Tonya Schreiber spoke at the annual Telework Town Hall.

A survey conducted after Telework Week revealed some interesting trends within the agency:

More than 3,300 FEMA employees participated in National Telework Week, March 4 – 8, 2013. Over the course of the week, these employees logged in 46,774 telework hours, tripling an average week’s telework hours. Almost 75% of FEMA managers joined in the pledge to telework and, of those participating, over 200 chose to share their Telework Week experiences via a voluntary survey where they reported enthusiasm for episodic teleworking and interest in mobile workforce training.

According to the survey results:

  • Most FEMA managers regularly practice teleworking in their units;
  • Approximately half of responding managers telework regularly themselves;
  • 70% have employees who currently telework at least one day per week;
  • 56% of the managers responded that they were more productive when teleworking;
  • 30% noted higher performance in teleworking employees.

As Schreiber described in her presentation at the Telework Town Hall, “If it doesn’t work in the field, it doesn’t work.” FEMA’s goal is to enable employees to respond to disasters anywhere, anytime. They are applying the same strategy to office employees and have gone as far as closing five of their office buildings. Beyond saving $9.1 million annually, FEMA is affirming their commitment to a mobile workforce.

FEMA has also announced a telework drill to test their mobile work capabilities:

During the month of May, FEMA - National Continuity Programs, in collaboration with the Office of Chief Information officer and Office of Chief Human Capital officer, will conduct a no-notice mobile work/telework drill. The Determined Sentry 2013 Mobile Work/Telework Drill will test FEMA’s current capabilities to operate in a telework environment, the alert and notification system, connectivity to the FEMA network through the Virtual Private Network dual factor authentication, remote access to component vital records, and communication capabilities.

While the technology used to support the agency’s telework goals isn’t necessarily cutting edge, the forward-thinking strategy proves that the government is building an infrastructure to support the technology and the workers of the future.

<p>Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock</p>

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