An evaluation of three separate pilot research projects in 2004 to investigate, develop, and validate strategies likely to yield the largest number of telework positions for returning veterans and people with disabilities.
"Workers with disabilities are an important and insufficiently tapped resource for employers. In recent years the federal government has strengthened its efforts to promote telework to help achieve increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities. To this end, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) funded three separate pilot research projects in 2004 to investigate, develop, and validate strategies likely to yield the largest number of telework positions for people with disabilities. This report synthesizes the findings and recommendations ... into one concise report. It is intended to provide direct input into the practices, policies and legislation that will be developed to assist people with disabilities move back into the workforce. Detailed findings from each project are contained within the individual project reports" (p. 6). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• Overall, the pilots confirmed that telework provides proven benefits as an alternative employment option, serving both employers and employees. For employers, telework can decrease certain overhead costs and satisfy fluctuating facility demands. For employees, it lessens or eliminates commutes, reduces workplace distractions, and helps workers balance work and family demands. • In general, telework has been shown to improve employee loyalty and productivity, and increase the likelihood of retention. • For persons with disabilities, telework can sometimes provide the most viable work option. While the pilot projects found that telework is perhaps not a long-term solution to the employment barriers encountered by persons with disabilities, it can be an effective way of bringing persons with disabilities into the workforce for the first time, or for transitioning them back into the workforce after an injury. • The pilot projects confirmed a low incidence of available jobs for newly hired teleworkers with disabilities, as is true for newly hired teleworkers without disabilities. Although telework opportunities do exist there is a need for a strong partnership between employers and service providers to maximize the job pools available to persons with disabilities. To expand opportunities for teleworkers with disabilities, federal and state governments should target and partner with employers currently offering telework and/or customer service functions, and offer these employers alternatives to develop successful and innovative employment models. • Teleworkers who have disabilities and their employers need to be properly prepared prior to telework implementation. Proper preparation can be supported through the use of workforce intermediaries, which are organizations that proactively address workforce needs using a dual customer approach one which considers the needs of both employees and employers. • Pilot project employers expressed a desire to have the business case for telework outlined for them. Various performance measures are utilized by employers as a means of tracking progress and analyzing telework processes" (p. 6-8). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)