In response to rising agency interest in working from home, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) produced a new guide to telework and remote work for Federal agencies on November 12.
The new guide replaces the one from 2011, which was issued in response to the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act in 2010. While the new guide does not propose any new policies, it does give resources and information to assist agencies in updating current telework and remote work policies.
“The effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic have prompted a significant interest, nationwide, in using telework and remote work as an important tool for safely and efficiently delivering mission-critical services in the public and private sectors during emergencies. Agencies demonstrated that they have been able to continue to carry out their missions effectively. As a result, agencies now have an opportunity to revisit how they were operating prior to the pandemic and leverage lessons learned to integrate telework and remote work into their strategic workforce plans.”Kiran Ahuja, OPM Director
The 79-page guide is the most comprehensive telework and remote work resource for agencies to date. The guidance is also available on the OPM’s new telework website.
This guide informs agencies that, depending on their mission needs, they can choose which staff are qualified for telework. “Agencies should strive to fully integrate telework into their culture,” the paper adds, even if that means giving staff telework opportunities “at least occasionally.”
Nearly 60% of Federal employees were teleworking on a daily basis at the peak of the pandemic, up from 3% pre-pandemic.
OPM seeks to “attract, recruit, and retain the best possible workforce” by pushing agencies to “strategically leverage workplace flexibilities” such as telework and remote work. Telework alternatives will be expanded to assist agencies compete with the private sector, which has long given remote work options before the federal government.
The detailed guidance follows the Biden administration’s announcement in June of increased telework choices for Federal employees, signaling a major cultural shift in the federal government by allowing agencies to give staff flexible work-from-home and hybrid schedules.
“While this guidance focuses on assisting agencies in updating their current policies, we expect to continue our examination of telework and remote work policies over the coming years as agency operations evolve, and as the Federal government further defines a broad vision for the ‘Future of Work’. OPM is excited to help lead the way in modernizing the way the Federal government does business to best serve the American people.”Kiran Ahuja, OPM Director
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