Money Trees add value to telecommuting initiative

The federal government has offered telecommuting programs since the '70s, but even with high-speed telecommunications so widely available, not all federal employees know about or exercise their options.

The federal government has offered telecommuting programs since the '70s, but even with high-speed telecommunications so widely available, not all federal employees know about or exercise their options.

Helping to educate them is Telework Exchange, an organization created by O'Keeffe & Co. and supported by Intel and other tech firms that set out to convey that the benefits of telecommuting can be as easy as found money.

Strategy

Federal laws exist to encourage telecommuting by government workers, but the practice has been hindered by confusion about policies at specific agencies, managers' concerns about security or oversight of workers, and workers' fears that they may end up out of touch. Telework Exchange seeks to get more workers telecommuting by educating them on their options and the financial benefits they can obtain.

Tactics

On June 8 and August 16, at DC locations near federal buildings, Telework Exchange set up a fake palm tree with 1,000 $2 bills on its branches and gave people five seconds to pluck as many bills from the tree as they could using one hand. To the hundreds of people who stood in line, Telework Exchange representatives spoke about telecommuting options and gave out bumper stickers, brochures, and T-shirts.

Results

About 225 people participated in the June 8 Money Tree event, and 250 people participated August 16. "We [had] to turn away people because we ran out of money, but that creates significant buzz among people to get there earlier next time," says Cindy Auten, Telework Exchange's GM. Several tech trade and general business publications covered the events, along with The Washington Post. Telework Exchange's Web site received around 15,000 hits.

Future

More than 400 people have voted on the Web site on where the next event should be held.

PR team: Telework Exchange (Alexandria, VA) and O'Keeffe & Co. (Alexandria, VA)

Campaign: Time Is Money, and Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

Duration: June 8 and August 16, 2006

Budget: About $20,000

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