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2003 Washington Area Conference On Telework Focuses On Challenges And Opportunities

Montgomery County, Maryland hosted the 2003 Washington Area Conference on Telework co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Telecommuting Advisory Council and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, General Services Administration, and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit. The half-day conference, "Better Work Through Telework: Increasing Profitability and Productivity in Today's Business Environment," took place recently at the Holiday Inn in Silver Spring, MD. Panelists representing private sector businesses and government agencies discussed telework trends, issues, and technologies to assist organizations in developing successful remote work programs. Exhibitors from around the region provided live demonstrations of the latest products and services.

"Despite the tough choices we had to make this year, my fiscal year 2004 budget recommends $100,000 for incentives to encourage telecommuting," said Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.  "I'm committed to alleviating gridlock, and telework can help us to achieve this goal.  My 'Go Montgomery!' transportation initiative dedicates $1 billion in new local transportation spending for congestion relief efforts over the next 10 years, and telework is an important and innovative part of our efforts to reduce traffic congestion."

Among those who addressed the audience of telework managers and administrators were: Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md.); Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan; Takoma Park Mayor Pro Tem, Bruce R. Williams; Fairfax County Supervisor Gerald E. Connolly; and Steve Benowitz, associate director of Human Resources, Products, and Services, U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Conference sessions addressed topics such as continuing operations, solutions, and policy and legislative issues related to telework, and offered case studies of innovative programs operating at Social and Scientific Systems, Inc., MHz, Discovery Communications, UXB, and Fairfax County.

Teleworking, or telecommuting (defined as using information technology and telecommuni-cations to replace work-related travel) can provide huge benefits to employers and employees. With commute lengths increasing throughout the region, telework offers a relatively low-cost means of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution, increasing the area's economic vitality, and improving the overall quality of life for residents. A recent survey conducted by Commuter Connections (a network of regional transportation organizations supporting and promoting alternatives to driving alone staffed and housed at COG) revealed that teleworking is growing at an unanticipated pace. Fifteen percent of the workforce in the Washington area telework at least one day a week, a significant increase from 12% in 1998. About 400,000 people now telework compared with 250,000 in 1998.

"There are so many quality-of-life issues that teleworking addresses - from traffic congestion to environmental quality," said Rep. Van Hollen. "For years in the Maryland legislature, I worked on telework measures. It is time to bring some of the progress with have made at the state level to the entire region."

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Release Date: Mar 26, 2003
Contact: Karen Sibert
Phone: 202-962-3249

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