The public sector should lead by example with teleworking initiatives

In this issue, columnist Dan Perley takes the Canadian government to task for doing little more than paying lip service to the goals of the Kyoto Accord (see story p.21). Rather than hiring Rick Mercer to star in TV commercials encouraging citizens to reduce their energy use, the government could

do far more if it took a leadership role in encouraging teleworking, he argues. But while Perley only calls for the various levels of government to take a legislative role in helping the private sector transition to relying more on home workplaces where feasible, why not take it a step further? Why not allow the growing number of public sector employees whose entire jobs involve working at a computer all day to do so in their own homes? Canada, which prides itself on being No.1 in e-government worldwide, is falling behind in what I believe will be a key element of true e-government. The U.S., for example, recently passed legislation requiring government agencies to have acceptable teleworking policies in place or face US$5 million in sanctions. A study recently conducted by CDW Government Inc. found that 87 per cent of U.S. federal workers are interested in having the chance to work at home, but only 19 per cent actually can.

Surely, if we have the technology to enable remote surgical procedures and complete medical degrees we can enable a few thousand employees to work over secure, high-speed connections.

As usual, the technology exists. It’s just the corporate culture that lags light years behind.

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