Furloughed Federal Employees Should Just Stay Home

Hi, has anyone noticed that traffic in the WMA has improved this past week? I am getting to office 20 minutes faster than I normally would. It’s awesome. Who would have guess taking the 7% of the federal workforce off the road would improve my quality of life so dramatically? I think the federal government should look for ways to make this permanent. Ha, I am not calling for the firing of tens of thousands of federal workers. I am not that heartless. Plus, it’s almost impossible to fire a federal employee. They are more likely to get audited by the IRS (0.5%) than they have fired/layoff (0.2%) according to a recent GAO report. When the federal government does re-open, we should look for ways to keep these employees off the roads and working from home.

With the way technology is progressing, it will not be long before almost all work is done remotely. Why not start this grand experiment with a majority federal workforce we already deemed non-essential to the day to day operation of the federal government? If we can get this part of the federal government workforce to be as productive and not have their work products slip, we will feel more comfortable allowing more vital work to be done remotely. The federal government will be able to test out software packages and management styles when the stakes are not as high and will be able to use those lessons learned for the more vital projects.

integrateIT is well positioned to help our federal clients and future federal clients with the transition from their teams being co-located to being remote. For one being a small business and not having our own facility, our management team understands the complexity of managing a workforce that is spread throughout the WMA. As an employee, I admire the way the way our management team prioritizes communication and employee engagement. Both will be vital in the success of remote work. Strong communication is needed for the success of any project regardless if the team is co-located or remote. If the project is all remote, it is important that nothing is lost in between the lines. Our company knows how to effectively communicate with each other when a face to face is not possible.

Humans are also a communal creature and without the sense of community, it will be hard to retain employees or keep them from depressed. integrateIT understands that some of their employees need that sense of community and as such hosts team building events, happy hours, social events, and charity events. We know how to retain and keep employees engaged, and are more than happy to share our lessons learned with our clients.

Another aspect that positions integrateIT well for the remote workforce, is that we have been successfully implementing software packages for our clients since our inception in 2004. Any successful implementation relies on a strong change management plan. Our project manager staff are well verse in designing and implementing change management.

I know the federal space that I am in will probably never allow remote work. But if my commute improves then I will be happy. Also, I know complaining about your commute in this area is like complaining about the weather.

Below are some of the pros and cons list of moving large parts of the federal government remotely. I am sure I missed plenty, but feel free to leave comments

Pros of Remote Workforce

  • My commute improves and my children and wife get to see more of me
  • Saves the federal and local governments money
    • Leasing space and owning buildings cost significantly more (over time) than buying software and hardware packages.
    • VA, DC and MD roads in theory will last longer with less drivers on them. Saving our local governments’ money
  • Access to a larger pool of quality employees.
  • Improves Quality of Life of Federal Employees and Contractors
    • Happy employees are productive employees

Cons of Remote Workforce

  • Not everyone is tech savvy and be able to work in this environment.
  • Not everyone is self-motivated to work from home and need the motivation from their boss
  • Employees will feel less connected to their mission (or company) being remote
  • You may have stinky neighbors. If people do not have to drive to work, they may think “what’s the point of showering?”
  • Until the artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough for tracking and prioritizing, there will be no way of knowing if someone actually worked a full 8 hours
  • Employees will be expected to be available 24/7 and responsive to emails
  • If you get to telecommute, you are going to run out of Netflix shows to binge pretty fast
    • Those of us that will still have to commute, won’t be able to talk about Netflix shows with any of our friends since we will be 6 months behind