The White House is pushing for federal agencies to reduce their use of remote work in favor of more in-person time at the office this fall.
White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients said in an email to Cabinet officials that increasing the amount of in-person work is “critical” to federal agencies’ workplace culture.
There is a general expectation that agency headquarters will increase in-person presence at federal offices and develop new systems to monitor “organizational health” and performance on an ongoing basis.
Zients’ email last week indicated that the target date for implementing those new work environment plans will be by November.
“These changes will allow us to harness the benefits of enhanced flexibilities that we experienced during the pandemic while ensuring we have the in-person time we need to build a strong culture, trust, and interpersonal connections,” Zients wrote.
“Newer members of our team—who will be the future leaders of our agencies—will have the face-to-face interaction critical to learning and growing, and all of us will benefit from the increases in morale, teamwork, and productivity that come from in-person work.”
Agencies will continue to use telework and authorize some workers to work fully remotely.
The government’s approach to telework has received criticism from Republicans in Congress and local government officials that are worried about the faltering commercial real estate market.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that most major federal agency headquarters are only one-quarter full, while none are at 50% capacity or more.