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September 25, 2012

Is Teleworking the Answer to Tightening the Federal Budget?


By Madhubanti Rudra
TMCnet Contributor

Teleworking has a number of benefits from the perspective of environment and energy conservation. Other benefits include healthier work-life balance, enhanced productivity and more. Telecommuting is fast becoming a way of lifestyle for a large chunk of US citizens and the growing acceptance of this mode of working among the US enterprises is remarkable.


Under this backdrop, Telework Exchange has come up with the results of new study that demonstrates how video conferencing can effectively help in reducing the Federal budgets.

Telework Exchange is a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the tangible value of telework. The organization’s recent study, “Fly Me to Your Room: Government Video Conferencing Collaboration Report” is based on a survey of 128 Federal government employees who participated in an online poll between July and August of 2012. The report says that by utilizing video conferencing, federal agencies can achieve increased efficiencies and cooperation, as well as significant savings.

Underwritten by Blue Jeans Network, the report holds that it is possible to achieve three and a half hours a week in productivity savings, amounting to $8 billion annually, if half of all Federal workers are allowed to use video conferencing.

  • 84 percent of respondents said that they expected video conferencing use to increase within the next five years.
  • 92 percent of respondents agreed increased video conferencing use would save tax dollars, while 73 percent agreed video conferencing would help reign in project timelines.
  • 78 percent of respondents noted the greatest benefit to video conferencing is reduced business travel---which is a dire need for these conservative financial times.
  • 70 percent of the respondents pointed toward the money saving potentials of video conferencing, while 53 percent liked it for improved collaboration.
  • 49 percent held video conferencing can reduce carbon footprint and 47 percent said video conferencing drives improved work-life balance.

Respondents also believed that greater use of video conferencing could save their agencies more than 30 percent of their overall travel budgets, which equals nearly $5 billion of the Federal travel budget.

However, respondents did point out the hurdles that may disrupt the wider acceptance of telecommunting as a mode of working.

A majority – 76 percent – agreed that their respective agencies are not using video conferencing to the fullest extent possible, due to a number of reasons such as the lack of available video conferencing tools (53 percent), network/bandwidth limitations (46 percent), lack of general use (41 percent), cultural barriers (40 percent), lack of awareness of video benefits (35 percent), cost concerns (34 pecent), incompatible video conferencing platforms (33 percent), and lack of managerial buy-in (33 percent).

“In our experience, the largest barrier to the adoption of video conferencing has been the lack of device interoperability. Organizations should not have to worry about whether or not all participants are using the same video conferencing solution, computer, or mobile device. The report findings support our relentless focus on making video conferencing as simple as an audio call in order to have government and non-governmental organizations alike benefit from better productivity and the cost savings associated with video conferencing,” chief commercial officer at Blue Jeans Network Stu Aaron, commented in a statement.

“We are riding the wave of mobility and must arm Federal workers with the right tools to get the job done in the best way possible. Collaboration tools, like video conferencing, allow coworkers to come together visually but without lengthy travel, or large amounts of time away from one’s work station. It best enables cooperation and teamwork in these mobile times,” general manager of Telework Exchange said in a statement.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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