This week, the Office of Personnel Management released a series of tips sheets that are designed to prepare federal workers for the adoption of hybrid work environments following the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the government’s response to the pandemics, agencies adopted a maximum number of telework positions. This dramatically increased the number of federal workers who could work remotely and allowed those who can telework full-time. OPM data shows that 50% of all federal employees were eligible to telework in fiscal 2020. This is an 11-point increase over the previous year. 90% of eligible employees also used workplace flexibility, which was 34% more than 2019.
Officials have been expanding telework from prepandemic policies to expand the options for agencies to return to their traditional work sites. With fewer people working at traditional sites, agencies must adjust their performance management policies in order to accommodate the new hybrid work environment.
In a MemoWednesday’s OPM Associate Directors for Employee Services Rob Shriver shared tips with agency heads. These tips were for managers, employees, and members of the agencies leadership teams. They highlighted best practices for managing performance for employees who work remotely or via telework.
Shriver stated that effective performance management requires commitment and engagement from all levels of an agency. These performance management tips were created to aid non-supervisory staff, supervisors, leaders, and all levels of the performance management process. OPM recognizes however that for the federal government’s future to be a leading employer, it must refocus on employee engagement and learning, development, and health and well-being.
The sheets combine best practices in performance management regardless of workplace environment. These include setting clear standards for performance that are fair and transparent. There are also tips on how to interact with employees virtually. For example, suggesting that managers and employees use filters and backgrounds to reduce outside noise and distractions during video conference meetings.
They encourage managers and employees to communicate openly, whether it’s through one-on-1 meetings or instant messaging apps. And the SheetThe article was written for agency leaders and focuses on the need to find other ways to allow staff to have Q&A sessions. This could be done during office hours, town hall meetings, or by creating space on agency intranets that employees can use to ask questions or give feedback.
Telework and remote work often allow employees to spend more time on their work due to the elimination of their daily commute. However, OPM stressed that management must foster a work-life balance within their organization.
Promoting a healthy balance between work and life (e.g. Not scheduling meetings at lunchtime, not using annual leave, etc. OPM wrote to leaders that positive work/life habits will encourage employees to follow your example, which will lead to increased productivity and employee wellbeing.
OPM encouraged employees to take proactive steps to establish healthy work habits. This included setting aside breaks to stretch and taking regular breaks from their desks. OPM also encouraged them to participate in extracurricular activities and to make use of the mental health and employee assistance programs offered by their agencies.