AFGE Members Say They’re More Productive While Teleworking

Categories: The Insider

Nearly 80% of AFGE members responding to a recent survey say their productivity has increased a lot or a little while teleworking during the pandemic. 

AFGE conducted the survey in May 2021 to learn more about members’ experiences teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic and determine to what extent members want to continue remote work or telework going forward. 

AFGE’s survey shows that the federal and D.C. government employees we represent were more productive during the pandemic, even though the majority were working from home for the first time. 

While teleworking during the pandemic, 62% of respondents said their productivity increased by “a lot,” while 17% said their productivity increased by “a little.” Another 17% said their productivity did not change, and just 4% of respondents said their productivity declined. 

The firsthand experiences of the employees AFGE represents directly contradict the assumptions being made by certain lawmakers that efficiency or productivity suffers when employees are permitted to telework. In fact, many federal worksites have reported increases in productivity during the pandemic even as most of their employees were working from home 100% of the time. 

Rep. Jody Hice, ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, has been a vocal critic of expanding employees’ ability to telework beyond the immediate coronavirus pandemic. In June, he called for agency inspectors general to assess the impact of remote work on agency missions and employee performance – based on an assumption that increased telework had contributed to delays, inefficiencies, and declines in performance. 

AFGE’s survey, along with reports from other agencies, counters that assumption. A survey by the Department of Defense inspector general released in March found that 88% of employees said their productivity level remained the same or increased during maximum telework. The Department of Transportation more than doubled the number of employees working from home during the height of the pandemic without any disruption to the agency’s operations and while increasing productivity in some cases.  

Prior to the pandemic, 58% of employees responding to the AFGE survey did not telework at all, while 15% reported teleworking one day a week. During the height of the pandemic, 80% of respondents said they were teleworking every day, while 10% were not teleworking at all.  

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they would like to continue teleworking at their current level, and nearly 19% said they would like to increase the number of days they work from home. Of those wanting to increase their telework days, 40% said they would like to telework all of the time, while 30% said they would prefer to telework three days a week. 

Based on AFGE’s survey results, employees who are teleworking at least part of the workweek say they perform their jobs more effectively and have a better balance between work and home life, while also saving time and money by not commuting. 

The results of this survey will guide AFGE’s conversations with agencies as they evaluate current and future telework arrangements for a post-pandemic environment. 

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