The House voted 221–206 on Feb. 1 to approve legislation that would roll back Federal agency telework policies to their year-end 2019 levels, and require agencies to justify any future changes in telework policies through reporting to Congress.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a July 20 memo to agencies that instructs them to consider telework and remote work, as well as the status of online collaboration tools when submitting their office workspace plans.
Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and John Sarbanes, D-Md. – both of whom represent districts with large Federal employee populations – have reintroduced legislation that the members of Congress said will “strengthen and expand the federal government’s telework programs by capitalizing on lessons learned” during the coronavirus pandemic when many Federal agencies had most employees working from remote locations.
According to the results of The Office of Personnel Management’s 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, federal workers’ engagement and satisfaction with their jobs has decreased from 2020. In an accompanied report, OPM predicted that some of the declines in engagement and satisfaction might be due to the fact that agencies were preparing – or had already begun – efforts to move Federal workers back to traditional work sites.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be welcoming back employees to their traditional offices by lifting its maximum telework policy on April 25. The degree to which telework will still represent a hybrid-workplace option for agency employees is still being determined.
Edging into what everyone hopes will be a post-pandemic environment, Federal agencies have learned a lot about remote work. But as employees continue to work from remote environments, agency tech leaders will need to continue to rethink policies, IT modernization, security, and training practices to ensure an integrated workplace environment, several Federal CIOs chief said during ATARC’s CIO Virtual Summit Jan. 25.
Digital transformation in the Federal government is shifting the focal point of security to the user and device – not the data center. As Federal IT leaders look to keep pace with new modernization and cybersecurity requirements, they need platforms and capabilities that support fresh approaches to security and data.
Effective 5 a.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, the Pentagon Reservation will be moving to Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie, with workspace capacity required to be at less than 25 percent and supervisors continuing to provide maximum telework opportunities.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kiran Ahuja emphasized in a recent report summing up the Federal government’s experience with telework during Fiscal Year 2020 that the practice will remain important to the government going forward particularly in creating further resiliency of agency operations and in helping workforce recruiting efforts.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., expressed “serious concerns” regarding wide-scale government telework in a Dec. 8 letter to leadership at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Personnel Management, and the General Services Administration.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a new guide to telework and remote work for Federal agencies on November 12, in response to increased agency interest in working from home.
A sampling of Federal agencies’ efforts to provide remote access for telework during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that each of the agencies was able to put the right technologies in place to accomplish that goal, but that several had not fully addressed relevant guidance for securing remote access systems, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with other natural disasters, forced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to shift to remote work. In a new report, the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said that the EPA was able to effectively plan a long-term solution to address remote access concerns while also transitioning to the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has invested “proactively and preemptively” in technology, so that when the coronavirus pandemic hit NIH it was able to seamlessly transition to a telework environment, according to the NIH CIO and Director of the Center for Information Technology, Andrea Norris.
While the COVID-19 pandemic pushed much of the Federal government to telework, a delay in IT Modernization efforts left the Passport Services Directorate forced to work in a paper-based environment during the pandemic, a new report from the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced Federal agencies to quickly move to a remote environment, Federal and private sector leaders say the shift to telework provided valuable benefits, such as increased leadership and employee engagement, as well as digital savviness among employees.
The U.S. Coast Guard expanded its telework capabilities to protect employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the service branch needs to ensure it is auditing data derived from Coast Guard staff self-reporting telework use and health statuses.
While teleworking during the pandemic, women have had to balance work and home responsibilities while still attempting to achieve corporate goals and managing teams and customer needs. Women in the Federal sector discussed the positives and negatives of telework, and the urgency to have women rejoin the workforce on July 14 during a Women in Leadership Forum hosted by ACT-IAC.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) successfully adapted to a flexible telework schedule for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to retain hybrid training and development opportunities for employees beyond the public health crisis, according to a DHS official.
As Federal agencies deliberate how to reopen traditional offices and the policies they will need to keep employees safe, one thing is clear: gone are the days when the cubicle was the only option for government workers. The pandemic has forced Federal agencies to rethink telework policies, remote work, and even in-office setups.
As more Federal employees are going back to the office, there are efforts to understand the impact telework had. According to a recent survey, one effect was a substantial boost in productivity, as 79 percent of Federal employees found their productivity increased while teleworking during the pandemic, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) found.
Jason Miller, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said he hopes the government’s expansion of telework for Federal employees will serve as a “leapfrog moment” and help the government to better compete in the battle for talent.
As vaccination rates increase and the United States nears closer to a broader return to offices, Federal IT officials in the Department of Defense (DoD) are reporting that their organizations’ IT environment is more complex now than two years ago, according to a recent Axonius and MeriTalk survey.
Federal intelligence community leaders agree that as the Federal government slowly starts to return to the office for in-person work, managers and supervisors will need to help lead a “cultural shift” within agencies to normalize remote work and rethink performance management.
The Biden administration announced expanded telework options for Federal employees on Thursday, creating a huge cultural shift for the Federal government that will allow agencies to offer flexible work-from-home and hybrid schedules to employees.
While many Federal agencies are transitioning at least some employees back to physical offices, the State Department is searching for new software to enable remote work.