Lawmakers look to private HR for remote work strategies

Congressional lawmakers appear eager to learn from the remote work strategies that HR leaders have had to write since CDC social-distancing requirements sent most employees home earlier this year. They’re especially interested in applying private sector practices to government departments and in cashing in on real estate savings that could accompany telework.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
(Photo by Toni Sandys-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management subcommittee, at a recent hearing said the pandemic has smashed assumptions about the potential of telework in government, writes TechTarget’s Patrick Thibodeau. Only about 22% of federal employees worked remotely for part of the time before the pandemic shuttered government offices. Lankford indicated that the number was now too small.

From childcare innovations like virtual summer camps to employee engagement struggles, employers have spent the past few months restructuring how they approach remote work while keeping productivity up.

But remote work trends, post-pandemic, remain fuzzy. Lankford’s hearing brought the benefits and drawbacks of remote work to the fore, Thibodeau writes.

For example, the Tulsa-based Williams Companies, which employs 4,800, handles about a third of the natural gas in the U.S. The pandemic prompted a shift to remote work, according to TechTarget, but Williams has not made a final decision on a long-term telework policy, said Lane Wilson, senior vice president and general counsel at Williams.

Still, other employers like Google and Twitter have made clear that remote work will be an option for employees going forward.

While President Donald Trump has broadly opposed telework, the pandemic has increased the number of federal workers working remotely, at least temporarily, Thibodeau says. The IRS, for instance, reported that 62% or about 50,000 of its 80,000 employees worked from home at the start of the pandemic.

To read the complete story from TechTarget on Congress’ review of telework opportunities, click here.

Editor’s note: This story is part of a content-exchange relationship between TechTarget and Human Resource Executive®, which produces the HR Technology Conference.

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