Washington DC - Thomas Jefferson Memorial with the National Mall beyond from Arlington, VA Image: f11photo/Shutterstock.com

The White House budget proposal contains few new details regarding its intents for the long-run mix of onsite and offsite work for federal employees, largely repeating prior statements about applying lessons learned from changes to work arrangements.

“Agencies are working to seize this transformational moment, taking this opportunity to learn from the changes made during the pandemic to help rethink how federal government work is conducted. Informed by lessons learned as the federal workforce increasingly operates in a more hybrid and distributed environment, agencies aim to fully leverage new technologies, break down barriers to collaboration, leverage new ways to deliver services, and examine how to optimize the government’s real property footprint to support agency mission attainment at the right cost and in the right locations,” it says.

The budget proposal had been watched as a potential vehicle for the administration to lay out in more specifics regarding the “reentry” of employees who have been teleworking full-time, or nearly so, for two years. Several agencies recently have announced their plans to increase onsite work over the coming weeks — the IRS being the latest — but that’s been mostly in general terms of hybrid arrangements.

The budget does not set standards but rather points to guidance already issued “to help inform agency planning for post-reentry work environments” that assume long-term telework at rates higher than before the pandemic. It adds this:

“The “future of federal work” is not an end state that will someday be achieved. It is inherently an evolving process. Rather than providing a prescriptive set of new policies and rules that agencies must follow in determining future work arrangements, the administration is committed to encouraging innovation, creativity, experimentation, learning, and evidence-building in different work environments. By utilizing expanded flexibilities in work arrangements and increased adoption of technology similar to private sector strategies, the government will enhance its ability to recruit and retain top talent.”

“In addition, the future of work is not limited to one aspect of the employee experience, it fully covers the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding to retirement. The overarching goal is to connect post-reentry workforce planning to long-term trends, facilitating innovative approaches to achieve agency mission and promote employee health, wellbeing, and potential,” it says.

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