Telework Preparedness: Effectiveness in the Federal Government

By Courtney Spohnholz

telework-preparedness-effectiveness-in-the-federal-government_achieveit

Telework Preparedness: Effectiveness in the Federal Government

In 2020, telework has powered itself to the front of the stage. It’s empowered leadership with the motivation to create and develop effective teleworking strategies. Strategies aimed to keep their business in line and on point regardless of work location. Now more than ever government agencies are acknowledging the importance and benefit of having a prepared remote work plan and workforce in place.

Unprecedented events such as the current health crisis surrounding the emergence of Covid-19 has brought to light the need for government organizations to have remote capabilities in place. These capabilities are critical to transition a workforce and management to a teleworking.

In times of crisis, government organizations are often expected to continue running efficiently while maintaining productivity. A well-thought-out telework plan for your department or agency can ensure your office and team will continue operating without interruption regardless of location.

When considering how to effectively implement telework for your department or agency it is important to take the time to consider the steps necessary to develop a thorough plan for success.

Here are some ways we’ve seen our partner federal government departments and agencies increase effectiveness with telework.

Establish Telework Policies for Your Department

To ensure your telework strategy is effective and understood by all, it is important to delineate and create clear telework policies. You must work closely alongside your Telework Managing Officer and telework coordinators to build and develop a teleworking program. This program should not only addresses your department or agency’s needs but should also be compliant with the requirements of The Telework Enhancement Act.

It is essential when implementing telework options to consider the flexibility and adaptability for your workforce. Consider the needs of your employees and your department or agency as a whole.

It may not always be appropriate or necessary for telework to remain as a permanent and full-time fixture for each individual employee. Rather it can be used in combination with in-office work and fieldwork to maintain a balanced approach. This can balance the specific needs of your workforce with your department or agency.

Allowing individuals at all levels to engage in telework should be addressed and prioritized within your telework plan. While it is important for those in leadership or supervisory roles to remain available during work hours, it is also necessary for them to be included in the telework considerations. Including all individuals as a part of the telework system from its onset, will lead to a higher rate of cooperation and investment in the success of the program.

With a successful telework plan, it should not matter where your workforce is at any given time. The measure of success for such a program is the efficient accomplishment of work responsibilities and requirements regardless of their position.

Develop and Maintain a Telework Action Plan

An action plan is a basis for addressing your organizational needs. It should also be supported by a vision for teleworking within your department or agency. Through meeting with your workforce at each level, you can understand specific by position and how best to align those needs with your organization’s vision and goals.

Use the action planning stage to research logistical concerns, available tools, and available financial resources that can be leveraged to streamline your office’s work processes.

Powering Your Workforce with the Tools to Succeed

With an action plan in place, consider what needs adjusting to accomplish the plan. Employees have varying needs to complete their responsibilities from home. Reviewing aspects of each position and their differing requirements can help lead to increased productivity and execution.

It is critical that your team is equipped to complete their work with the technology necessary for their specific type of work and position.

The Right Telework Tools

As part of an effective telework preparedness plan, it is crucial to research the tools used by your workforce and how those tools can be transitioned to teleworking.

While some positions may simply require a laptop and secure connection, other positions may require more advanced equipment or capabilities. Keep in mind that not all positions will require access to technology at all times. Positions with heavy fieldwork components and manual tasks may not need as much technology throughout their workday.

Oftentimes, organizations believe that telework equates to additional expenses and frustrations. In reality, telework is no more expensive than working from a traditional office setting. In many cases, departments or agencies can save a considerable amount of money in their budgets in the long run.

The Right Telework Platform

One key element of effective telework is creating alignment between leadership and the workforce. Create alignment through a unified and central platform. Centralization can keep everyone connected on key objectives and projects throughout their workday.

Using strategic planning software will ensure the agency or department is led with a plan that is clear and accessible by all. This increases the achievement rate for key missions and goals.

The Right Telework Support

To allow your team to continue an effective and productive telework plan, you must provide them continuous access to a support system. The support system should help find solutions when faced with obstacles or technical concerns.

Like an in-office environment, having supervisory teams available when needed, and also IT support, can help cut-down on initial telework inefficiencies.

Ensure Proper Training for a Smooth Transition

Once the policies, tools, and platforms are in place for your telework plan it is important to train your team thoroughly. Training should include all aspects of telework, including the responsibilities and expectations for each position that will be participating. Without training on new policies and procedures, employees may fail to leverage the telework action plan to its fullest. Don’t let your new plan go to waste through failed implementation.

Telework Does Not Equal Decreased Productivity

Contrary to popular belief and stigmas, telework does not automatically equate to a reduction in productivity.

While the initial transition to working from home may be a period of learning and adaptation, individuals tend to quickly catch on and resume their normal productivity. Establishing a new telework routine and process can actually help increase productivity. With a strong process in place, teleworkers will complete more work and be more engaged than a traditional office setting.

Maintain Open Communications

Similar to working in a traditional office setting, it is important to maintain open lines of communication. Ensure there are specific teams delineated with assigned supervisors to allow for better management of projects and focused objectives within your department or agency.

Some teams may have a split workforce with some employees in the office and others working remotely. Ensure processes and programs are in place that allow your department or agency to remain engaged and connected at all levels regardless of location.

Hold Routine Meetings & Check-Ins

When it comes to telework, meetings and check-ins are integral to the successful continuation of business as usual. These strategies allow your teams to work towards your department’s mission as well as meet or exceed your department’s goals and objectives. Holding brief, daily meetings will help your teams remain informed and updated on day-to-day operations.

Keep Workforce Morale Strong & Engaged

Keeping everyone on task is key to maintain your department or agency’s productivity. However, it is just as important to maintain and promote your workforce’s morale regardless of their primary work location.

Develop programs, events, and incentives to keep the workforce engaged while teleworking. Your workforce is the key to the success of your department or agency’s telework plan. Keeping your workforce’s morale high will lead to higher productivity and job satisfaction.

AchieveIt: A Proven Telework Solution for Your Organization

With AchieveIt you have access to a unified platform for managing your workforce, planning, and carrying out your organization’s objectives and initiatives with ease.

AchieveIt is a Software-as-a-Service platform that is widely utilized by organizations like the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Joint Pathology Center (JPC-DHA), state and local governments, and hundreds of large commercial entities to track and report on mission-critical plans and initiatives.

We empower these large organizations with the uniformity and visibility necessary to align and track their highest-level initiatives down to the individual tasks that drive execution and readiness.

With everything in one central location, it’s easier than ever to stay informed, updated, and connected to one another while achieving goals and accomplishments as a unified front.

AchieveIt Core Competencies:

  • Track performance of long-term projects
  • Monitor execution on mission-critical initiatives
  • Track key metrics with reports & dashboards
  • Coordinate important updates across the organization
  • Maintain Continuity of Operations

That’s why everyone from global corporations, to regional healthcare systems, to federal agencies have turned to AchieveIt for their Integrated Plan Management. Let’s actually do this.