Is it Time for Federal Employees to Head Back to Agency Offices?

The federal government has had a dramatic shift in its policies regarding in-person work for federal employees. How do FedSmith readers feel about it?

What a difference a few days can make.

The last week of February, the federal government’s COVID-19 protocols were still in place, federal employees were still on maximum telework flexibilities with no end in sight, and the CDC was telling everyone to keep wearing masks.

Now that the calendar has turned to March, we have a very different situation. The CDC relaxed its mask guidelines to the point that federal employees in most of the country are now no longer required to wear masks, federal agencies have begun following suit with dropping mask requirements, and the Biden administration has relaxed mask rules for federal employees.

On top of all of that, President Biden is now siding with some Republicans in calling for federal employees to return to in-office work in greater numbers. During the State of the Union address, Biden said, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again. People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office. We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.”

A number of Republican lawmakers have been saying the same thing for over a year now, even going so far as to introduce legislation that would require federal employees to scale back telework. Efforts to do so date back as far as last year.

FedSmith readers have repeatedly told us when surveyed that they do not think they should be working in their agency offices, mainly out of fear: fear of catching COVID and fear of being around their co-workers who might be sick. Many respondents also said they liked working at home and were able to get their work done successfully.

Given the dramatic policy shift on COVID safety protocols and remote work from the highest levels of government, how do you feel now about returning to in-person work at your agency’s offices? Have FedSmith readers changed their minds?

The survey is now closed. You can see the results in this article: Return to the Office? FedSmith Readers Still Say Not Yet.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.