Telework. Not too long ago, it was a pilot project for agencies to see how and if federal employees could work remotely and if doing so would impact their job satisfaction. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and telework, while still novel, was no longer optional. Two years later, 58% of government employees are working from home. Nina Albert, commissioner of the Public Buildings Service at the General Services Administration, reported that in her agency alone six percent of the workforce is fully remote, 10% is onsite five days a week, and the majority is hybrid. This breakdown aligns with the general workforce (public and private).
With this new reality of mainly remote work, it is time to get serious about making remote work…well…work. Many of us found ways to get the job done with short-term fixes and solutions. With remote and hybrid work being permanent, the time is perfect to reexamine how we’re getting our jobs done to see if our tactics succeed for the long term.
- Classify your tasks – Look at your to-do list and determine which tasks are better completed at home, free of office distractions, and which benefit from in-person communication and coordination. Schedule your in-office days and work accordingly.
- Examine commuting costs – Commuting less often can save money, but there are hidden costs in splitting your time between two places. Do the math to ensure you’re not spending more month-over-month on parking or transit passes by paying the daily rate rather than sticking with a monthly contract. You may also want to reexamine carpooling. Traveling with colleagues five days a week may feel onerous to some people, but if you are looking at that trip only twice a week a carpool option becomes more palatable.
- Reality check your food spending – Like commuting, working from home would seem to be a great way to save on food costs by making it easier to avoid dining out. However, 42% of people who work from home reported their monthly grocery spending increasing by over $100. Also, watch the frequency of dining out when you are on site. It’s tempting to “treat yourself” to lunch at a restaurant that is only located near the office or indulge in a fancy coffee when you walk by the coffee shop to motivate yourself to make the longer commute.
- Getting paid – According to OPM guidance, teleworking Federal employees must report to their traditional work site at least twice per pay period in order to qualify for locality pay tied to that site’s region. Remote workers who do not commute to a traditional agency facility on a regular basis should have pay tied to their home’s location, not an agency facility’s location. This is an important regulation to understand when considering a move or a long-term arrangement that has you working outside a commutable distance to the office.
- Be social – Twenty percent of at-home workers report struggling with loneliness. Make a conscious effort to build in lunches and coffees with colleagues as part of your days. When a meeting topic is especially important or complex, look for opportunities to turn virtual meetings into in-person meet-ups. Add more professional events like conferences, breakfast panel discussions, or evening networking events to your schedule to help advance professional development and build professional networks.
While remote work may feel like old hat at this point, there’s always room for improvement. Looking at how your current work situation is impacting your productivity, finances, and enjoyment of your job is critical to making work work for you.
As the founder of GovEvents and GovWhitePapers, Kerry is on a mission to help businesses interact with, evolve, and serve the government. With 25+ years of experience in the information technology and government industries, Kerry drives the overall strategy and oversees operations for both companies. She has also served in executive marketing roles at a number of government IT providers.