Changes in federal workplace operations caused by the pandemic likely will be permanent, in part because the experience has shown that agencies can be more productive in a high-telework environment, a study by the SAIC contracting firm concludes.
A survey of 300 federal IT and business decision makers found that agencies have moved beyond the initial period of reacting to the pandemic—through steps such as increased telework, new health and safety protocols for the office and new workflow protocols—into looking toward the future.
“One thing is clear — agency operations have forever changed. In office activities have been replaced by people working remotely and relying on information technology to collaborate, securely access data, and engage with applications,” it said.
“Now that the immediate push to respond is complete, it is time to reflect on what agencies learned and how they will use that knowledge to move forward. It is clear that there is no desire or plan for simply going back,” it said.
The survey found, for example, that while 90 percent of respondents currently are teleworking at least three days a week, only 30 percent did so before the pandemic—but 82 percent expect to do so in the future.
Similarly, 39 percent said they never or only rarely teleworked before the pandemic but only 3 percent expect that will be true in the future.
Also, 24 percent of teleworkers consider themselves much more productive than before and 32 percent more productive. Reasons cited included savings in commuting time and reductions in meetings—and those held being shorter and more to the point.
Of employees who reported a negative impact on productivity, problems included distractions of working with children also in the home and lack of access to certain technology available only in the office.