On Telework Day in VA

<ed.note>Imagine what the Nashville workplace of 2009 would look like if we ACTUALLY VALUED INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION instead of just rhetorized about it at meetings we drive to. Of course, I should point out the Congress still requires its members to be physically present in order to vote vs. using some web-based tool or telephones. This is ironic since the IRS is perfectly happy to take my tax money — which the Congress will be voting how to spend — over the internet.</ed.note>

The Hon. James P. Moran of Virginia in the House of Representatives:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I
rise in support of Monday, August 3, as
Telework Day in Virginia and applaud Governor
Tim Kaine on this initiative.

On this day, thousands of Virginians will
perform a full day’s work from their houses
rather than their places of work. This practice
empowers workers who feel that they can fulfill
their obligations to their employer equally
well from home as in a brick and mortar office.
My colleagues, teleworking provides enormous
benefits to employers and employees
alike, as well as positive social and economic
impacts. Teleworking, a practice which dates
to the 1960s and then was dramatically expanded
in the ’90s, thanks to a host of networking
innovations, can save employers
premises costs and office overhead fees.

If all eligible Federal employees teleworked
2 days per week, the Federal Government
could realize $3.3 billion in savings in commuting
costs annually and eliminate the emission
of 2.7 million tons of pollutants each year.
Furthermore, it would provide an easy and
necessary means of operational continuity
should the Nation’s Capital be the target of
another horrific terror attack.

Teleworking can also increase productivity,
typically 10 percent to 40 percent per person
in large programs, by eliminating the often distressing
and frustrating commute to and from
work. For example, it eliminates commuting
costs for employees because they do not have
to pay for gas or public transportation. Given
that the average round trip commute is 50 miles and commuters spend an average of
264 hours per year commuting (66 minutes
per day), Americans would be relieved of the
burden of spending so much time on the road
that could be better spent with their families.
Through this practice, employees are allowed
the freedom of working at their optimal
times; some might be more productive in the
morning while others might be more productive
late at night. Telework allows the workers
to get into a personal daily rhythm and work
when they please, thus maximizing individual
liberty and occupational productivity.
At this time, States and localities all around
the Nation are grappling with ways in which
congestion on the roadways can be reduced.
We could facilitate greater capacity for mass
transportation—but that requires heavy infrastructure
investment and the vision to plan
long-term. We could also build more roadways—
but that would simply invite more cars
and more traffic, while doing nothing to improve
the quality of life for millions of hardworking
Americans.

Those options taken together do indeed
form a necessary component of traffic mitigation,
but they take both time and money. Teleworking
is simple to implement, economical to
operate, and reflects the many ways in which
technology has allowed the spheres of personal
and professional life to blend together. It
allows for a young professional to care for her
newborn child or a son to care for his ailing
mother in the comfort of their own homes,
without worrying what would happen should
they have to spend a portion of their day in an
office, away from those who depend on their
presence.

I am proud to say that at the end of 2005,
Fairfax County in Virginia was able to meet
the region-wide target of having 20 percent of
eligible workers engaged in teleworking. I
would invite my colleagues to take note of
teleworking’s success and stand up for a
worker’s ability to set his or her own schedule,
with the expectation that it will allow for a
more flexible lifestyle without compromising
productivity. Rather than relying on the desks,
chairs, and file cabinets that defined the average
employee’s office a generation ago,
telework allows Americans to bring the workplace
to them, not the other way around.