– saving money, the environment and increasing business continuity – but only in the States?
We read with interest the breaking news that over in the United States the ‘Stay in place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013’ has been introduced with the aim of supporting a telework/mobile environment via video conferencing in order to reduce Federal agency travel expenses. It recognises that video conferencing can help to improve collaboration, promote efficiency and improve work-life balance by enhancing communication and problem solving, reducing carbon footprints, facilitating staff training and interagency meetings, and increasing productivity.
The Act cites the Telework Enhancement Act which came into effect back in 2011 and states that telework:-
1) Is a useful strategy to improve Continuity of Operations to help ensure that essential Federal functions continue during emergency situations;
2) Promotes management effectiveness when telework is used to target reductions in management costs and environmental impact and transit costs, and;
3) Enhances work-life balance, i.e. telework allows employees to better manage their work and family obligations, retaining a more resilient Federal workforce able to better meet agency goals.
Under this Act each executive agency must, “incorporate telework into the continuity of operations plan of that agency.”
We couldn’t agree more with both Acts, and during these austere times perhaps our government should follow suit. Although it shouldn’t take a government mandate to implement something so obvious in terms of efficiency savings and contributing to environmental sustainability and business continuity. Many small businesses already realise that.
However, government’s do set the direction of travel and judging by the HS2 proposals it would appear that the current government still see us travelling around the country, commuting in and out of major cities in order to do business, or as consumers, to view and purchase goods.
Perhaps what’s needed is a radical rethink. By committing to build a fast rail link at huge cost we are failing to think creatively. If Victorians had done similar they’d have invested in making travel by horse and cart faster. They didn’t. They built railways and canals (and introduced the telephone!). Maybe that same thinking applied today would see increased investment in higher speed networks and digital skills?
The presumption that we need to travel to do business and have a viable economy needs to be challenged. The alternative presents compelling business advantages and long term sustainability benefits that we can’t afford to ignore.
What do you think?
(We should state that the Telework Enhancement Act. “… does not mandate telework or promote telework for its own sake. Instead it asks agencies to implement telework as a workplace flexibility that assists agencies to maintain continuity of operations and recede management costs while also improving Federal employees’ ability to balance their work and life commitments. The Act encourages an increase in the use of telework, but only for employees who choose to do so.”)