Dying to get back to the office, or afraid you might if you do?

If you are working from home these days, have you gotten into a routine? Or are you still lost in less space than your workplace? Is life under these circumstances right now better, and safer than it might otherwise be in the 9-to-5 commuter world? And are you more productive? Maybe healthier or a little bit heavier than this time last year?

Or — do you miss your coworkers? Are you in a rut? Can’t wait to get back to traffic, commute, mask and all? Is spending 24/7 with Fido and Rex a lot more than you signed on for?

Or — do you have mixed emotions? Do you miss the pre-March 2020 world of cheek-to-check dining and travel limited only by time and finances, but at the same time dread the factory whistle telling you to return to your post at the old office?

The fact is that millions of people who never dreamed they would be working from home have now been at it close to a year. With no end in sight, if some experts are correct. Many of them are government workers who — because of their jobs or bosses who don’t like and don’t trust them — never thought they would be allowed to do their duties outside the line of sight. And while some places and offices have called people back, the majority are still working from home. Earlier this year it was thought (hoped) that the return would begin early next year. But now July has become the new back-to-the-office goal for many firms including Google, Uber, Slack, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft and many news organizations. I’m in the office two days per week now and loving it.

According to a report in the New York Times, 73% of U.S. employees “fear that being in their workplaces could pose a risk to their personal health and safety.” Like many media outlets, many of the newspapers staff are working remotely. Like others, it is now talking about delaying the back-to-the-office recall until the middle of next year. That’s about as much time as many people have already spent/enjoyed/suffered working from home.

For some workers in some progressive companies, home is the new normal. Facebook, Twitter and others have also said that workers will be free to pick their worksite home or traditional office in the future. I know three people, in Maine, Louisiana and New York City who are working from their new homes there for companies based in the D.C. area. For two the salary vs. local living cost differential has been significant.

Many of the old objections to working from home have simply gone away. In addition, trust issues — as in will the employee goof off, start a daycare center or work at another job while on the federal payroll — seem to have also faded if not gone away. The issue of equipment needed and who supplies it (remember land lines?) is gone. As are arguments about workers comp which once blocked government efforts to get more people off the highways via teleworking. Members of Congress pushed teleworking efforts for years with both goals and mandates. Some agencies responded. Others complied (barely) by letting some people work from home once a month, or once a year, just so they could check the yes-we-telework box.

Now one of the issues surrounding permanent teleworking is pay. Should a fed working in rural Tennessee be paid at the locality rate for Manhattan or San Jose, where his/her agency is located, or should they be paid the much lower RUS ( Rest of U.S.) rate which could make teleworkers more attractive and cost-effective. Others raise the issue of how often teleworkers — if a program is made permanent — should be required to come into the office. And who pays transport and lodging? That became an issue in the Washington D.C. area when a group of mostly work from home feds balked when asked to come into the office once a week. Some proposed they be paid extra for doing it, or that their parking or expenses be covered for that.

So what about your situation? Working from home or not? Like it or not? Any secrets to share? Would you accept a lower federal RUS paycheck with a significantly lower retirement annuity for life if you could transfer from D.C. or Los Angeles or Philadelphia to a less costly area? Let me know.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

Dated Oct. 15, 1860, 11-year old Grace Bedell sent a letter to soon-to-be-elected President Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he grow out a beard to help him win the election. Lincoln responded to the letter on Oct. 19, 1860, addressed “My dear little Miss.” He reportedly later made a campaign stop so he could meet her. The correspondence can be seen in documents courtesy of the Detroit Public Library. There is a statue of the pair together in Bedell’s hometown of Westfield, New York.

Source: Library of Congress

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THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN TICKER

Nov 27, 2020 Close Change YTD*
L Income 22.0803 0.0276 1.01%
L 2025 10.9544 0.0282 -
L 2030 37.9069 0.12 0.12%
L 2035 11.2850 0.0393 -
L 2040 42.3283 0.1605 -0.21%
L 2045 11.5097 0.0469 -
L 2050 25.0239 0.1087 -0.56%
L 2055 11.9606 0.0607 -
L 2060 11.9606 0.0606 -
L 2065 11.9608 0.0607 -
G Fund 16.4952 0.0007 0.82%
F Fund 21.1518 0.0431 6.30%
C Fund 54.0824 0.1342 2.69%
S Fund 69.9555 0.613 3.97%
I Fund 34.2431 0.2444 -10.53%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at tsp.gov
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.