Should feds go back to office? Here’s a thought: Ask them!

President Joe Biden wants most working-from-home-feds back in the office ASAP! Like yesterday! For good reason: Merchants from Huntsville, Alabama to Baltimore desperately need some of their best customers back in stores, parking lots and diners. Like before COVID-19.

Customers who need to deal face-to-face with somebody, from the IRS to Veterans Affairs or Social Security need a real face (with brain and body attached) before them. But…

There are also lots of good reasons why many people say the 9-to-5 office of the 20th century is gone. For good. Working from home does wonders for rush hour traffic and air pollution, from the freeways of San Diego to the infamous beltway around Washington, D.C.

Many employees swear they are also more productive and likely to put in more hours if they can work remotely. So to test the waters we asked a random group from around the nation. Most answered quickly. With makes-you-think comments. Here are some of the first replies we got. All, every single one, is interesting. Some surprising. This is the first batch with more from-the-trenches feedback from readers.

A 30-year worker at NAVSEA in Dahlgren, Virginia:

I came to work every day throughout the pandemic. Went into the office; it was actually pretty nice since I was only one of very few that came in. Still coming in to the office every day.

I wouldn’t mind a couple of days a week teleworking, but I’ve got to get away from home (but I don’t have a horrible commute).

If I could work remotely from another area, I would agree that pay/raises should be based on location since a portion of pay is for locality.

Of note I have worked for Dept. of Navy for over 35 years.

A West Virginia based fed:

If you don’t want to return would you change jobs or agency if your new employer would let you work from home? So my answer to this question is “it depends.” I am not opposed to going into an office to work; I miss seeing people and working together. I feel that team building is more organic and natural if you are in one location vs. on a video conference. That being said, I would probably not change jobs into an agency or job that would require on-site presence 100% of the time. I think a hybrid situation suits me best. I should mention that I live in the eastern panhandle of WV so a commute to DC is 2+ hours each way.

If you could work remotely from a different city would you agree that future raises would be based where you were actually working, not where your official office is located? I fully understand that and would not expect to make D.C. locality pay if I was living somewhere with a much lower cost of living. That being said, I’m still thankful for Senator Robert Byrd who worked to ensure that my county is included in the D.C. locality pay area.

An about to retire employee:

I enjoyed teleworking for the last two years, until now. I am almost ready to retire with 32 yrs. of service. I am planning to work until Dec. 31, 2023.

A worker in suburban D.C.:

I am most likely not going to return to work. I got two times COVID positive: One in 2020 and the second one in 2022 and my immune system is weak.

Another is obviously making the best of what, for many, could be a tough situation:

Well, for me, I am perfectly well teleworking from home. It is a privilege that some people take for granted. I work for the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Rockville; I have no plans to move away from Maryland, even if taxes are killing me, because I collect my SSI pension (yes, I am 71 yrs. old) and SSI is taxable in Maryland, but I enjoy this city. My office is only six miles away from home.

During the pandemic and we continue doing it now, the meetings are by Zoom. We even have a Christmas Party by Zoom. All the conferences, seminars, trainings are by Zoom or webinar. It is an amazing time! Even if I am suffering from an aggressive invasive breast cancer, I am enjoying telework. Blessed the Lord!!! That we have this incredible opportunity on these days of inflation, we get to save the gas money.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Daisy Thornton

Researchers in New Zealand were able to train pigeons to recognize up to 60 English words with 70% accuracy.

Source: NPR


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