Large majorities of DoD employees say they have been at least as productive if not more so under maximum telework and that they want to continue teleworking at a higher rate than before the pandemic, a survey conducted by the inspector general’s office there has found.
Nearly 49,000 DoD civilian employees plus some 7,000 military personnel responded to the survey, in which 47 percent said that their productivity had increased and another 41 percent said it was the same. They most commonly credited “fewer interruptions and distractions” and said that teleworking “eliminated unnecessary meetings and forced process improvements, such as moving from paper to electronic processes, increasing efficiency,” the report said.
The report reflects the latest in a series of similar findings that could help shape long-term policies regarding telework, alternative work schedules and other policies that agencies have been following due to pandemic-related concerns—concerns that already have started easing as growing numbers of federal employees now have been vaccinated against the Coronavirus and the pace continues to accelerate.
The DoD survey could be especially important because it involves the largest federal agency.
Of those responding last August when the survey was taken 88 percent were teleworking at least part-time, including a 10-fold increase in those teleworking full-time among the civilian employees. The main reason for not teleworking was that their jobs did not lend themselves to it, but some also reported that “their supervisors discouraged telework,” the report said.
“Many survey respondents reported a desire to telework regularly in the future (37,146 responses) and expressed appreciation for commuting less often (27,711 responses), better work life balance (25,508 responses), and more flexible work hours (22,461 responses),” it said.
More than 90 percent reported that they initially faced problems including with accessing networks and teleconference applications, which the IG said “occurred because some DoD components had not fully tested whether their information systems could support government-wide mandated telework and had not conducted telework exercises with their personnel before March 2020” as required under DoD policy.
It added that those issues—which varied among components in severity—generally lessened over time as DoD, like many other agencies, beefed up those capabilities and distributed additional equipment to employees including laptop computers and ID card verification readers.
However, the need for additional equipment and the need for “management buy-in and support” were the two most commonly cited needs for improving telework.