Teleworking then, now and tomorrow: Where do you fit in?

For lots of us, “then” and “now” mark life as we knew and lived it before COVID-19 changed everything. Hugs and handshakes are out, some say for decades, if not forever. That was then – this is now.

Now it is elevators with hand sanitizers, and a limit of two persons standing as far apart as possible. Now all banks, which once strongly discouraged visitors with masks, require both tellers and customers wear them. Face masks in many parts of the country,  for many people, have become a political test. Conservatives think wearing one is wimpy and useless or an affront to the president. Liberals think not wearing one is thoughtless and stupid, and a danger to anyone standing near you.  Whether one wears a mask or not has become a political litmus test.

The term party-til-you-drop has, quite literally, taken on a new meaning, from Mardi Gras to let-it-all-hang-out beach weeks.

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Then there is Uncle Sam, as represented by you and your coworkers.

So how has the new order impacted your work life? Two years ago, according to Office of Personnel Management figures, only about 22% of the nonpostal federal workforce teleworked. And that was often one or two days a week. And only 42% of white collar feds were even eligible to work from home. At the same time the Trump administration was cracking down on teleworking as part of its effort to discourage or eliminate what it said was federal unions using taxpayer time, equipment and office space to conduct union business. A number of agencies closed union offices in government buildings and reduced both the number of employees who were teleworking as well as the number of hours or days per pay period they could work from home.  Then everything changed — certainly for the long haul and maybe for good.

The IRS is calling teleworkers back to the office to answer millions of pieces of mail that have stacked up. The Social Security Administration needs more people to deal with customers semi-directly.  So where’s it all going?

Today’s guest on our Your Turn radio show is Frank Takacs of Brother International. He works with federal agencies on the unique challenges teleworking brings to their operations and IT.  Many experts say Uncle Sam, for whatever reason, has been lagging behind the private sector in taking advantage of teleworking. Reduced traffic, less expense at the office and increased, in some cases, productivity — there is also the downside of equipment failures and employees not getting together to exchange ideas and suggestions.

A spokesman for the company said there have been success stories in government teleworking, including places like the CIA. We’ve been told it’s promoting the use of flexible work centers which have computers and printers that are available on a first-come-first serve basis. They are open 24/7, especially in the Washington, D.C. area.

So where to do you and your agency fit into the brave new world of change imposed by the pandemic? Listen to the show today at 10 a.m. EDT either on www.federalnewsnetwork.com or at 1500 AM in the D.C. area.  If you have questions shoot them to me before showtime at mcausey@federalnewsnetwork.com. The show will also be archived on our website so you can listen later and or refer it to a friend.

So is it back to the highway and that horrible daily commute? Or do you miss coming into the office, fully clothed, checking out the wisdom of the crowd? Let’s find out.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Since the 16th century the Mercator Projection has been how much of the world was taught to illustrate countries’ shapes and sizes. But the Mercator is deeply flawed and exaggerates land masses particularly in the northern hemisphere – leading many to argue it fosters a Euro-centric worldview. Even Google Maps uses the Mercator. But the website The True Size has an interactive tool to correct those inaccuracies, where you can overlay countries to see their true size comparison.

Source: Matador Network