Policies for Remote Employees Are in the Works for the United States Government

The Biden Administration has been exploring the possibility of transitioning to a more flexible workplace model in the long-term due to the numerous benefits it has been known to bring. Such benefits include an increase in employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention, as well as the fact that there are now numerous successful examples of teleworking in the federal sector. This has made the option of transitioning to a more flexible workplace model a highly attractive one for the Biden Administration.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 23% of government employees were working from home on a weekly basis. However, that number has since skyrocketed to 74%. To accommodate the shift to remote work, senior government officials have announced plans to give individual federal agencies the autonomy to develop flexible work programs that are tailored to their specific objectives, employee needs, and management practices.

Justifications are as follows:

Federal employees reported higher levels of job satisfaction after adopting remote work policies

A survey revealed that a higher level of engagement was demonstrated by government employees who worked remotely at least three days a week, as evidenced by a score of 76, compared to those who predominantly worked in an office setting, who scored 62.5.

A survey of federal workers who are eligible for remote work revealed that 82% of them expressed satisfaction with their organisation’s telework program; only 5% reported being displeased, and the remaining 12% were neutral in their assessment.

A survey of members of the National Treasury Employees Union revealed that a vast majority (92%) of employees have had a positive experience with teleworking, and two-thirds (66%) reported an increased level of productivity while working remotely.

Advantages apply to employers as well, since remote work allows government agencies to attract and retain top people

Despite the diligent efforts of government officials to recruit and retain the best and brightest applicants, they have unfortunately experienced difficulty in the past due to an absence of flexible employment options. Trent Fraizer, Executive Director for Campaigns & Academic Engagement for Homeland Security and CISA, acknowledged that this was a primary issue, noting that “candidates want to live in a region where you don’t spend half your income in property taxes.

Frazier is deeply concerned that government agencies could face difficulties in the long run if they do not adopt more competitive recruitment practices in the face of fierce competition from the private sector. Companies like Google, Twitter, and Lenovo are spearheading the trend of providing remote or flexible working options for their staff, and this is something that government agencies should consider in order to stay competitive.

Experts in the fields of economics and human resources agree that there are undeniable benefits to recruiting from a distance. By recruiting from a distance, organisations are able to open up their search for the most qualified candidate, regardless of the person’s physical location. This approach to recruiting allows for a greater selection of potential employees, and can potentially provide organisations with access to a more diverse pool of candidates. In addition, recruiting from a distance can be cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for costly travel expenses.

Agencies expand their successful use of remote workers

As a result of the success they have experienced with remote working methods, several government agencies have expressed a desire to continue using these methods even when the current pandemic has come to an end. These agencies include, but are not limited to,

  • Department of Defence (DOD)

Despite widespread concerns about data security and privacy, the Department of Defence (DoD) has made remote work possible, and is now actively striving to develop a virtual work environment in 2020 to support and enable Work From Home (WFH) initiatives. This undertaking, codenamed DOD 365, is being further extended to incorporate a full suite of collaborative tools with enhanced levels of protection.

  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has previously declared that its workers will be allowed to work from home for up to four days a week, as well as making use of virtual and remote duty stations and having more flexible schedules. This initiative is designed to increase the productivity, morale and well-being of the employees and to make the workplace more efficient.
  • NASA

    At the start of the epidemic, NASA had to quickly adapt its existing remote work procedures to accommodate widespread telework. As a consequence of their swift action, the agency was soon able to enable 90% of their personnel to work from outside of the office.
  • General Services Administration (GSA)

    Over the past five years, the General Services Administration (GSA) has had a considerable amount of its staff members working remotely, so the transition to a fully remote workforce went remarkably smoothly for the agency.

Both federal workers and agency management recognise the advantages that boundary-less teams offer. The success of past government telework initiatives provides further evidence that remote working will remain an important component of the workplace in the future.

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