OPM Issues New Guidance, Encourages More Telework, Remote Work

Categories: The Insider, Coronavirus

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has recently issued new guidance on telework as agencies are preparing to safely return federal workers to the physical worksites. The new guidelines serve as additional guidance to the memo issued in June.  

“Agencies can, where appropriate, deploy personnel policies such as telework and remote work effectively and efficiently as strategic management tools for attracting, retaining, and engaging talent to advance agency missions, including in the context of changes in workplaces nationwide as a result of the pandemic and in response to long-term workforce trends,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja.  

“As agencies consider personnel policies and associated flexibilities in their post-reentry work environments, informed by consultation with agency leadership, supervisors, employees, and employee representatives, we strongly encourage agency travel and human resources offices to collaborate when establishing telework and remote work policies that may affect location-based pay entitlements and travel benefits.”   

Here are 10 takeaways from the new guidelines:   

  1. In light of the changes that happened due to the pandemic, OPM expects many more employees will be eligible for telework.  
  2. Agencies should determine who is eligible for telework based on job functions, not managers’ preference.  
  3. Employees with similar work functions should be treated similarly.  
  4. There’s a difference between “telework” and “remote work.” Telework refers to an arrangement where employees report to the worksite and alternate worksite (like at home) on a regular basis. Remote work doesn’t require employees to report to the worksite at all.  
  5. Treat remote work as a tool to recruit and retain employees. There are also other benefits such as the ability to acquire new knowledge for hard-to-find skillsets; help cut costs, and help employees balance their work/life.  
  6. Telework should not be an exception but a routine way of doing business using the experiences learned during the pandemic.  
  7. In light of its experience during the pandemic, an agency that doesn’t allow telework for employees with young children or someone who needs care at home should reevaluate that policy and allow more flexibilities regarding work hours.  
  8. Require teleworkers and supervisors to complete appropriate training about telework and how to evaluate performance.  
  9. Consider restructuring jobs so that all employees could be eligible for at least occasional telework.  
  10. Have consistent telework policies at all locations if possible.  

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