Telework is making headway in Virginia's Loudon County, a suburb of Washington that suffers from major commuting gridlock, according to the Washington Post. County officials are using software provided by the Telework Consortium, a nonprofit organization with a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Dept.
The Dulles Area Transportation Association found 14% of local workers telecommute and another 26% would like to. Here, as in federal agencies, government participation lags far behind those numbers. In Loudon, only three to five percent of employees telework. Why government needs to do more is apparent from the front page of an issue of Loudon Business, in which an article about the publication's participation in a Telework Consortium pilot ran below an article headlined: "Traffic Crunch: Here to Stay."
[The consortium], which sets up pilot programs to promote telecommuting, provides technical assistance and can supply basic materials: a microphone, a Web camera, software that transmits sound over broadband to facilitate conversation and an optical feature that streams live video, allowing participants to see one another. There is also a "white board" feature for viewing or editing documents online, in real time.
"Now we are really at a point where technology gives us a lot more options" for telecommuting, [county administrator Kirby] Bowers said, which can mean less office space to rent, fewer vehicles on the road and perhaps even increased productivity.