Learn Lessons From COVID-19 Remote Working, OPM Says As New Guidelines On Teleworking Are Published – Global Government Forum
OPM director Kiran Ahuja.
The U.S. Bureau of Human Resources has released updated guidelines on teleworking, encouraging government agencies to make the move to remote working a permanent part of human resources policy during the pandemic.
In a memo to agency directors that announced its release last Friday week, OPM director Kiran Ahuja said the COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated the willingness and ability of federal employees to perform their duties effectively from locations away from the office.
“Agencies now have the opportunity to rethink the way they work before the pandemic and use the lessons learned to incorporate teleworking and remote working into their strategic workforce plans,” she said.
The document, which updates a previous document published in 2011, distinguishes between so-called “routine” teleworking agreements, understood as regular teleworking that is integrated into an employee’s roster, and “situational” teleworking, which is approved on a case-by-case basis by a supervisor “as required “. The latter include cases where an employee has duties of care or suffers an injury that requires home recovery time.
However, the OPM added that teleworking “is not a right or entitlement of the worker” and that agencies are free to support or reject requests for teleworking. Teleworkers are expected to take care of dependent care “like in a temporary work place”.
“It is important to remember that teleworking is not intended to be a substitute for dependent care. Employees are not allowed to telework with the intention or solely for the purpose of performing their care duties while performing their official duties, ”the statement said.
Strike the balance of power
While federal agencies have far-reaching powers to determine whether an employee is eligible for remote work, the OMP warned that they do not have “absolute power or discretion.”
“In practice, the agency’s room for maneuver can be determined by the law for the improvement of teleworking, decisions by the federal agency for industrial relations on the interpretation of this law … and government-wide and official regulations,” it said.
With regard to the development of teleworking policy, the OPM stressed the need for agencies to include program objectives and objectives, as well as a “statement of purpose” setting out the benefits teleworking will bring to their organization and its employees. He also stressed the need for agencies to use understandable definitions of teleworking and worker eligibility, including clear parameters, procedures and standards for policies to work effectively.
“Teleworking agreements should be well-written, jargon-free, practical, clear about responsibilities, roles and expectations, and reflect and comply with applicable law and the agency’s teleworking policy,” the guideline says.
As part of this, agency programs should clarify expectations about how employees communicate with their supervisors, how their performance is assessed and recorded, and the terms and conditions under which overtime is agreed and remunerated. Agencies also need to ensure that teleworkers receive “the same treatment and opportunities as non-teleworkers”, including career development opportunities and promotions.
The OPM added that any policy must highlight the teleworker’s responsibility to ensure that their work arrangement does not adversely affect other members of a team.
Embed the trend
In the introduction to its guidelines, the OPM said that it started tracking teleworking in 2013. and maintain operations in emergencies.
It said federal agencies could use their guidelines to assess whether remote working arrangements are having a significant positive impact on the organization’s effectiveness. Alternatively, she added, agencies could use it to add to existing guidelines or to reassess the cost implications of teleworking agreements.
Codifying job flexibilities would ensure federal agencies remain resilient in the face of future disruptive challenges. The benefits of teleworking could also meet workers’ mental health needs and attract new talent.
“[Telework] can help federal employees to reconcile work and personal responsibility … and thereby increase employee satisfaction and wellbeing, promote loyalty and serve as an attraction for potential applicants. “The agency concluded:” If they are By implementing a strategic management tool, robust and well-practiced remote work programs can improve employee performance and engagement and maximize the organization’s productivity, efficiency and governance. “