Teleworking has emerged as crucial to attracting and retaining talent, making it likely to remain part of federal workplaces after the pandemic. But agency leaders must consider more than a continuation of the COVID-19 virtual environment, which was an adaptation, not a strategic transformation. Sustaining a full-time distributed workforce—with some employees working part- or full-time remotely and not necessarily near an office building—presents new challenges, many centered around questions of equity:
- Equitable performance measurement: Will employees working virtually be recognized and appreciated as much as onsite employees in evaluations and promotions?
- Equitable workplace environment: Will virtual employees engender resentment from onsite colleagues who perceive their own circumstances less flexible?
- Equitable decision-making and resourcing: Will stipends for workers furnishing a home office be adjusted based on the cost of living where the employee resides? Will full-time, onsite employees receive a comparable benefit for commuting costs?
There are no definitive solutions to these questions; leaders must examine the tradeoffs in affording some or all employees the flexibility of telework and determine what’s right for their organization. But there are generally accepted best practices to strive toward. LMI supported federal agencies in planning and implementing a hybrid workforce model years before the pandemic. We fostered collaboration and addressed the multitude of effects on organizational culture, leadership, and resources. This work underscored the importance of structure and trust to an effective and equitable distributed workforce.