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.

The late December 2021 report from OPM covers the status of Federal government telework for FY2020, which saw remote work become a critical benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the FY2020 status, the report emphasizes that telework can continue to help the government deliver on mission goals as new variants of the coronavirus arise.

The required annual report on telework addresses agency management efforts to promote the practice, successful deployments of agency telework programs. It features key findings including:

  1. Increases in telework eligibility;
  2. Increases in telework participation;
  3. Positive trends in telework-related goals; and
  4. Improved capacity to assess related cost savings.

“This experience makes clear that, that when implemented correctly, telework can help us deliver on our mission,” wrote Director Ahuja.

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“As we look to the future, OPM is encouraging agencies to strategically leverage workplace flexibilities such as telework to help attract, recruit, and retain the best possible workforce, as well as leverage telework as a way to ensure greater resiliency and emergency preparedness through the Federal government,” she said.

Through OPM’s annual telework data call, agencies across the Federal government reported that 50 percent of employees were eligible for telework in FY2020, which was an increase of 39 percent from FY2019.

Additionally, 45 percent of all Federal employees and 90 percent of eligible employees teleworked in FY2020 – a 34 percent increase among both populations from FY2019.

The need for telework to complete mission goals for the Federal government seems far from over. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID Data Tracker currently lists COVID-19’s community transmission in the U.S. at its highest level of measurement, and the number of cases on a steady incline since Sept. 2021 with the emergence of the omicron variant.

In addition to providing as many telework opportunities as possible for the Federal workforce, the CDC also recommends checking symptoms, quarantining and isolating if exposed to the virus, testing and wearing masks, along with getting vaccinated and boosted against the virus – which President Biden has already mandated for Federal employees and contractors.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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