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Biden Administration Pushes Federal Employees to Return to Work

The Office of Management and Budget is encouraging federal employees to return to their offices full-time. A new 19-page memorandum outlines guidelines for substantially increasing in-person work but does not set concrete deadlines for agencies. Federal agencies must submit reports outlining how they will improve "organizational health and performance." With the formal ending of the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government wants agencies to reassess their work environments and find ways to improve their organizational health. The memo does allow for flexible operational policies to recruit and keep talent. In addition, the administration wants best practices shared and intends to hold underperforming agencies accountable.

In President Biden’s State of the Union address, he pledged to bring workers back to the office. He stated, “It’s time for America to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again with people.” Members of both parties have expressed concern that federal workers are less accountable to the public when working from home. One Republican Representative said, “Requests for updates on actual cases by email and phone go unreturned, and our constituents feel like no one can help them.”

The federal government employs roughly 2 million employees, some of whom never had the option to work from home. Employees working in Washington D.C. are the most likely to be impacted by the changes. The D.C. mayor has encouraged the Biden administration to get more federal workers back in the office because local businesses are struggling.