Now that over 90% of federal employees have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and over 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, is it time for federal employees to return to in-person work in their agency offices?
It’s a debate that has been going on for quite some time now. Some lawmakers are questioning more and more why more federal employees are not returning to in-office work, especially in situations where they have to interface with the public such as processing veterans’ benefits or Social Security offices.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently posed the question in a letter to agency officials. Among other things, he asked whey more federal employees were not returning to in-person work, especially in situations where problems had arisen due to a lack of in-person services, given that so many federal employees have complied with President Biden’s vaccine mandate.
Other lawmakers have also said it is time for federal employees to get back to work in their agency offices in greater numbers. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), for example, said that federal employees needed to safely return to in-person work, citing problems his constituents were facing getting basic government services such as facing long wait times for even phone appointments at local Social Security offices.
Legislation was even introduced late last year that would require federal employees who are complying with the vaccine mandate to return to their duty stations and hours they were working before the pandemic.
The Biden administration, however, has encouraged greater use of telework. The Office of Personnel Management recommended greater use of telework when it updated its guide to telework in November.
Additionally, many argue that telework is just as efficient, so returning to the previous norms of working in offices should not happen again anytime soon (or maybe ever). On top of that, the latest version of COVID (omicron) has been spreading recently, so many argue that now is not the time to resume in-person work.
Is It Time for Federal Employees to Resume In-Person Work?
FedSmith readers have said in the past that they do not feel safe working in their agency offices.
Where do you stand now? With so many federal employees having received the COVID vaccines, is it now time for them to resume working in offices in greater numbers? Do you feel safe doing so?
The survey is now closed. You can read the results here: FedSmith Readers Still Say They Shouldn’t be Working in Offices