US government plans for remote workers could spur private-sector push, too

The US government is apparently set endorse remote working for its 2 million workers, even after the pandemic subsides and offices reopen, according to The Washington Post — a move that could encourage permanent adoption of “work from anywhere” policies across the public sector and could allow companies to reduce real estate costs substantially.

As at most organizations, government agencies were forced to move quickly in 2020 to support remote work at unprecedented levels when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. With plans now under way across a variety of industries for a reopening of offices over the next few months, the Biden administration is set to release guidance in June that would allow for a permanent increase in the number of remote staff, The Post reported this week.

The guidance will allow individual agencies to choose from a variety of hybrid remote-work strategies, with support for both in-office and remote workers. The degree to which employees will be able to work from home is likely to vary; not all job roles are suited to remote work, and agencies may be able to decide based on factors such as employee need, manager preference and the department’s priorities.

Many of those same variables are at play around the world as companies try to decide how best to resume pre-pandemic business plans and processes. And given the size of the federal government, a large-scale move to encourage remote work will influence a variety of management practices at federal agencies and beyond, said Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice.

Kropp expects the coming government plan to “solidify that remote and hybrid work are what the future of work looks like.

“Not only does it impact the roughly 2 million people that currently work for the federal government, it will also likely impact all of the employees that work as contractors, consultants and provide additional support for federal government employees,” he said. 

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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