A survey of over 6,000 area commuters shows more workers in the metropolitan Washington region are teleworking than ever before and attributes its recent growth to actions by federal officials and workers.
Over a quarter of commuters interviewed—27 percent—reported working from home or working remotely “at least occasionally” according to the most recent State of the Commute survey conducted by Commuter Connections, a program of the Transportation Planning Board at the Council of Governments. The federal government saw the most significant gains in the share of workers who telework far outpacing the private, non-profit, and state and local government sectors.
“We have always known that there is tremendous potential for further expansion of telework in our region in both the private and public sectors, and I could not be more pleased that our actions have allowed more residents to telework,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11). “Continued growth in teleworking will reduce demand on our crowded road and transit systems, improve our air quality and provide numerous other economic benefits for both employers and employees.”
Researchers credit the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 as a major factor contributing to the increases in teleworking among federal workers. The law, which was driven in part by members of Congress representing districts in the Washington region, requires all federal agencies to develop formal telework policies, to identify all positions that were suitable for teleworking, and to designate staff specifically to help implement and monitor telework programs.
“Our ongoing commitment to teleworking is critical as we seek to reduce the need for additional federal office space and to ensure that daily operations, especially critical ones, continue even when major emergencies and natural disasters occur,” said Congressman Frank Wolf (VA-10). “Further, telework allows for more time spent at home with family, increased productivity and decreased traffic congestion on the roads.”
In the 2013 survey, 38 percent of people who work for the federal government said they teleworked at least occasionally, up from 27 percent in 2010 and just 16 percent in 2007. By comparison, only 25 percent of private sector workers reported teleworking — down from 28 percent in 2010 — and 27 percent of workers in the non-profit sector did so, up slightly from 26 percent in 2010. Just 13 percent of state and local government workers said in the 2013 survey that they telework.
The survey also revealed room for further growth if more employers would allow it — 18% of respondents said they “could and would” telework if given the opportunity.
Commuter Connections has conducted the survey every three years since 2001. The survey included telephone interviews with 6,335 residents of the Washington region.