There is little sign from the US Government that a remote work policy, which would impact all federal agencies, is on the way.
While remote work certainly existed before the pandemic, its proliferation due to necessity has transformed the country’s labor landscape. A recent poll showed 2/3 of the workforce prefer a hybrid model, 1/3 prefers to telework full-time, meaning just a miniscule fraction is believed to prefer jobs that are on location all the time. Human resource departments at both government agencies and private companies have found that being able to offer telework boosts their recruiting capabilities. So, despite some Congressional pressure to return the federal workforce to pre-pandemic telework levels (see the “Show Up” Bill here), there doesn’t seem to be any viable activity that would indicate policies, surrounding telework for federal employees, are going to change soon.
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Comprehensive policy guidelines applicable to multiple federal organizations do not currently exist, and so whatever remote work policy your employing agency has been instilling since COVID-19 struck is probably going to remain as it is, for at least the foreseeable future. Apparently, too many variables are at play when it comes to determining how remote workers should be codified. Should fully remote employees have different benefit structures or policies than those federal workers who have to be on-site to fulfill their job’s requirements, like a TSA agent at an airport? What about workers who commute to on-site locations because their home doesn’t permit telework? (Such situations include a house with poor internet connection, or the presence of housemates that could interfere with the employee’s ability to work from home.)
But until there is clearer guidance from either OPM or the legislative branch, most federal agencies find themselves stuck in a sort of limbo. Few agency leaders are willing to commit to fully embracing the future of remote work. They’re holding off on major steps that would need to be taken – for example, reducing office space or updating their technology to be more friendly to telework environments. And although it seems federal agencies have mostly adapted to the current work-from-home circumstances, there have been squabbles about telework policies at a few agencies – such as the EPA, the BFS, and HUD.
Until Next Time,
**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.