In June, the Federal Government will release guidance that is expected to permanently increase the number of remote staff across the nation. The Biden Administration is making a push for over 2 million government employees to continue working remotely. Not only will this plan impact those federal employees directly, but it will also indirectly affect the contractors, consultants and other agencies that do business with the government.
While states and cities are reopening and some workforces are heading back to the office, this government initiative could set a starkly different precedent. Many private companies could follow suit and establish a more permanent in-office/remote hybrid workforce which is not dependent on pandemic conditions.
When the pandemic first struck, private sector businesses anticipated a return to daily life that would closely resemble pre-COVID life once the pandemic was over. During that early stage of the pandemic, businesses and government agencies scrambled to support remote work with temporary set-ups and short-term fixes. However, as lockdowns and social distancing have continued, these structures have evolved to be more permanent.
Now, with an endorsement from the US government, working remotely could receive a powerful catalyst for high levels of perpetual adoption throughout the private sector. In particular, large companies with nationally distributed workforces are expected to closely watch and follow the example set by the current administration.
How Government Remote Work Policies Will Impact Local Government and Private Companies
The government’s June report is expected to allow remote workers to choose among varying amounts of in-office and out-of-office remote work. The amount of work that can be accomplished remotely will vary by role and department.
These policies will highlight key variables that private companies are trying to discern for their own workforce. Additionally, the details of the federal initiative are likely to roll downwards and encourage state and local governments to follow suit and increase the amount of remote work at every level of the public sector.
Given the scale of the federal government, such a large move to remote and hybrid remote work will influence large private sector company practices. IT advisory leaders like Gartner expect the June initiative to cement remote and hybrid work as the future of work for public and private sectors alike. Once the government has moved to more remote work, it will validate private companies working remotely.
The pressure to increase remote work flexibility is not a one-sided affair. Private sector practices also put pressure on the Federal Government to adapt and offer competitive benefits. The Biden Administration considers an “anywhere work” strategy as crucial for the government’s ability to attract, retain and engage federal employees.
Remote Work Remains Popular with Employees
Regardless of the initial apprehension and challenges to support remote work, the move to a virtual office remains highly popular with employees. Numerous studies have pointed out that working from home has increased employee engagement and job satisfaction, which ultimately leads to higher levels of productivity.
A hybrid solution of in-office and remote work is quickly becoming an expectation and a demand from workers as they return to offices nationwide. Research from Gartner indicates that flexible remote work policies will impact how long 54% of employees will stay at a company.
Many private companies are already acting to allow for more remote work. According to a March report from IT research and consultant Forrester, 70% of private companies are set to increase the flexibility for their workforce to work remotely or in-office.
Remote Work Requires the Right Tools
In order for government agencies and private companies to support more remote work, the right tools have to be in place. After all, remote workers should perform at the same level as in-office workers.
Among the most important tools for a hybrid or fully remote workforce is a communication platform that connects employees and management anytime, anywhere. An uninterrupted flow of information is key to a successful remote team.
Also, it is crucial that the communication platform has a wide range of integrations and tools that are easy to use. These are key for employee adoption. They facilitate shared data between on-premise systems and they make the switch between in-office and remote work seamless for employees.