The pandemic “highlighted the extent to which the resilience of the United States relies on the resilience of its government” although it meanwhile “highlighted the challenges already posed by government struggles with antiquated technologies, retention of high performers and cumbersome rules for budgeting and procurement,” says a report from the Partnership for Public Service.
The pandemic also presents an opportunity “to rethink and reset how their agencies deliver their missions. Returning to the pre-pandemic status quo can no longer be the goal” by stressing characteristics that have proven to be the most effective, says the report.
It said those characteristics, based on a survey of 300 federal leaders, include an agile workforce prepared to face changing circumstances; a culture of innovation that encourages employees to seek better ways of doing things; modern technology that allows them to work more effectively; and cybersecurity that keeps information secure and private.
Regarding workforce resiliency, it said that federal employees are largely satisfied with the high levels of remote work that have been in effect for nearly a year. But it said that such flexibilities have not overcome longstanding workplace problems including skills gaps, the lengthy hiring process, uncompetitive compensation, and lack of needed training and long-range planning.
Further, the pandemic “highlighted the potential adverse impact of remote work on the work-life balance of many employees. Many leaders said they became concerned about employee burnout, with home offices blurring the boundary between work and home lives. Federal leaders warned that several agencies attributed some increases in productivity to remote employees working longer hours—which could lead to employee burnout, which in turn could cause higher staff turnover and attrition.”
“Not all employees will want to continue working remotely when a return to the office becomes an option,” it added. “While some employees are more productive working from home, others have found they are more productive when collaborating in person, or that they do not have the technology to support remote work in the long run.”
It said that post-pandemic, agencies will “need to work with individual employees to determine the best option for how, when and from where those individuals get their work done, based on personal work styles and circumstances. Managing and monitoring performance also should be tailored to fit the unique needs of employees working remotely and those who return to an office to work in person.”