Any successful organizational change depends upon leadership support. The TMO performs a critical role by ensuring telework programs are aligned with strategic planning. Because the TMO is a change agent for telework, implementing organizational change principles will help agencies to achieve the promise of telework.
- Creates vision: Ensures agency compliance with the requirements of the Telework Enhancement Act, and as a leader facilitates the creation of a driving vision for change.
- Engages support: Provides key stakeholders (e.g., manager, employee) a clear understanding of what the agency is trying to achieve through telework, engaging support for telework policies and practices.
- Plans for success: Develops telework policies and leads strategic program implementation, contributes to the actual success of telework programs by engaging in plans for success, and advises and participates in the creation of the telework policy.
- Supports performance: Ensures key decisions (e.g., employee eligibility, participation) are based on a telework strategy supportive of and aligned with agency mission.
- Grows capabilities: Ensures that those individuals key to telework success, especially employees and their supervisors, have the necessary skills for effective participation.
- Engages evaluation: Leads development of goals and metrics for measuring goal achievement with the purpose of assessing program effectiveness.
Leveraging Change Principles to Make the Business Case
Agencies must strive to create a vision for change that leaders and employees can understand and support. Essentials for establishing and driving an effective telework program to achieve anticipated benefits include creating a change vision, engaging support, and establishing the need for change. All of these steps contribute to the development of a solid business case for telework. Successfully building an effective business case for telework results in a very plain message of how an organization can increase employee recruitment and retention, increase employee productivity, increase employee satisfaction, reduce absenteeism, and save on real estate costs. When considered comprehensively and effectively, the application of a telework program quickly becomes a win for all.
Creating the Vision
In order for key stakeholders to engage and support telework, they must be able to visualize the organizational and employee benefits. It is important to demonstrate how telework can add real value. There are multi-level benefits of telework that agencies can build into a strong business case, including:
- Community/Social: improved air quality, improved neighborhood safety, reduced threats to public health.
- Organizations: improved employee attitudes and productivity, reduced business costs (reduced real estate costs, improved employee retention), improved capacity to continue operations during emergencies, culture of trust.
- Employees: improved general health, better management of life responsibilities, financial savings, improved work focus, improved job satisfaction.
Demonstrating the value of these and other benefits allows individuals from all levels of an organization to understand how telework adds value to the agency and can be used as a strategic tool. OPM consults with TMOs to establish evidence of such outcomes through evaluations. OPM encourages agencies to leverage existing data sources when finding evidence of benefits, because they are accessible and cost-effective.
Back to top
The success of organizational changes requires the buy-in and support of key stakeholders. In the case of telework, the manager is a key stakeholder. Managers truly are the lynchpin to the success of telework programs. Engaging support begins with an intimate understanding of any concerns held by leaders and managers. It is critical that these concerns are addressed through clear and concise arguments made through the business case. When a business case shows all major concerns have been addressed in a proactive manner, stakeholders are more likely to relax and listen. Then benefits can be highlighted and all program aspects can be described.
It is important to align a telework program with the accomplishment of organizational goals. The information used to build your business case can later be tied into developing a larger strategic plan. Consider the following questions before presenting your business case to your stakeholders:
- How does the telework program fit into the overall business goals?
- What resources - including people, financial, supplies and other critical assets - are available?
- Who are the key team members that will be setting the direction and developing goals?
- What is the organization's unique attributes, such as environment, culture, demographics, etc.?
- What aspects of your telework project plan, timelines, expectations, budget and resources can you tie to your agency's mission?
An effective way to achieve this clear alignment is by establishing an evidence-based need for change. Lastly, invite the participation and input from leaders. Strive to keep stakeholders informed and leave room for their active participation.
Back to top
Agency leaders and other key stakeholders will need to understand why a telework program is important for the organization. One way to do this is presenting agency data supportive of the notion that the agency and employees would benefit from the proper application of telework. OPM analyzes Federal data sources, such as the annual telework data call and the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Results from the annual data call are found in the Status of Telework in the Federal Government Annual Reports to Congress.
There are a number of tools and best practices available to TMOs. When considering which data sources to use, keep the following in mind:
- Draw on multiple data sources.
- Include data specific to your agency.
- Draw a clear link between telework and valued outcomes.
- Exercise caution when making causal claims.
- Quantify outcomes in a meaningful way in relation to cost.
In addition to the presentation of hard data, anecdotal evidence can be persuasive. Gathering testimonies from individual employees internal to the agency and/or from other agencies can be very motivating. Sharing best practices from more advanced benchmark agencies can also help build a strong business case. Lastly, assessing and sharing results of a pilot of telework practices is an important step. An early stage assessment will inform coordinators where revisions need to be introduced and where processes are running smoothly.
Back to top