Top teleworking tips: OPM shares performance management advice for hybrid-working US federal government

By on 09/02/2022 | Updated on 09/02/2022
A person's hands working at a desk keyboard
The OPM has said that for the federal government to be a model employer it must renew its focus on "employee engagement, learning, development, health, and wellbeing".

The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has circulated information to human resource directors at federal agencies setting out how to operate a performance management process for employees in a hybrid work environment.

In OPM’s new tip sheet sets out tips across six headings – planning, monitoring, rating, reward and recognition, learning and development, and employee’s physical and mental health – as part of the federal government’s plan to institute hybrid work fully as employees return to traditional workspaces.

“OPM recognises… that for the federal government to be the model employer in the workforce of the future, there must be a renewed focus on employee engagement, learning, development, health, and wellbeing. These important aspects of performance management are addressed in the tips as well,” Robert Shriver, associate director of employee services at OPM said in the memo that was circulated along with the tips.

“Agencies need to be equipped to manage employee performance equitably and effectively — regardless of whether the employees are in the office or not”.

Specific tips relate to maintaining open and realistic communications with employees about work expectations, goal setting, the use of technology to attend meetings and training, and evaluating progress. They also stress the need for managers to recognise individual achievement and offer employees counselling and intentional breaks from work.

READ MORE: Biden’s management agenda prioritises federal employee engagement

From remote to mainstream

The federal government’s tilt towards telework during the pandemic means significantly more of its employees are now eligible to work remotely. According to OPM data reported by Government Executive, half of all federal workers were eligible to work remotely in the fiscal year of 2020, and 90% took advantage of their eligibility. The data also show meanwhile that before the pandemic, remote work was chosen by more than half of eligible employees.

The new tip sheet follows the President’s Management Agenda, which lays out the Biden administration’s goal of prioritising federal employee engagement. Published in November last year, the agenda document stated that: “expanded telework and alternative work schedule [will] enhance [government’s] ability to recruit and retain top talent, staying competitive with broader trends in how Americans work”.

It also outlined the government’s goal of developing “a new vision for how we use the federal real estate footprint nationwide across agencies in response to shifts in both where federal employees work and how they work in person together, to ensure both effective mission delivery and employee health, safety, and wellbeing”.

Around the same time as the agenda was released, OPM published guidance on telework in which it encouraged agencies to “revisit how they were operating prior to the pandemic and leverage lessons learned to integrate telework and remote work into their strategic workforce plans”.

READ MORE: Learn the lessons of COVID-19 remote working, says OPM as it publishes fresh guidance on telework

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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