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.
The guide replaces the original one from 2011, which followed the Telework Enhancement Act that was signed into law in 2010. While the new guide doesn’t offer any new policy, it provides resources and information to help agencies update their own telework or 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,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said in a memo to agency leaders regarding the guide. “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.”
The 79-page guide is perhaps the most detailed telework and remote work tool for agencies yet. OPM also has a new telework website, where the guide is posted as well.
The guide reminds agencies that they can decide which employees are eligible for telework, depending on their mission needs. However, the guide says “agencies should strive to fully integrate telework into their culture,” even if that means providing telework opportunities to employees “at least occasionally.”
At the height of the pandemic, nearly 60 percent of Federal workers were teleworking daily – a drastic increase from 3 percent pre-pandemic.
By encouraging agencies to “strategically leverage workplace flexibilities” such as telework and remote work, OPM hopes to “attract, recruit, and retain the best possible workforce.” Expanded telework opportunities will help agencies to compete with the private sector, which has offered remote work options long before the Federal government.
The detailed guide comes after the Biden administration announced expanded telework options for Federal employees in June, creating a huge cultural shift for the Federal government that allowed agencies to offer flexible work-from-home and hybrid schedules to employees.
“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,’” Ahuja said. “OPM is excited to help lead the way in modernizing the way the Federal government does business to best serve the American people.”