Federal Employees News Digest

Last promotion?


With an estimated 43% of American workers telecommuting, this might be a good time to ask yourself an important (at least for some) career question: Was your last promotion your last promotion? 

What if teleworking expands, either naturally or because of a new, more deadly wave of COVID.  Could you—whether you like it not—wind up working from home, or a remote site, for the foreseeable future?

Whether you are new, mid-career or the end is near, what would working from home do to your career path? Obviously, nobody knows the answer. But you know your office environment and your boss. So, what do you think about home vs. office, plus or minus your promotion chances?

A) Would that be a good thing? Have you prospered working from home? Have you, as many report, been more productive than before the lockdown? Have you frequently spent what would have been commuting time actually doing productive, offce-related work?

B) Have you discovered, or confirmed, that you are an introvert? Someone who is happy working or just being alone? Someone who may like and appreciate but not need the stimulus of others? And if so, what does that mean to your promotion chances (if anything)?

C) Has working from home made it clear that you are a people person? That you draw energy from the crowd, from office mates? Do you communicate better—with customers, peers or your supervisor—face-to-face? Or is out-of-sight not a problem?

Like so many things, the future and lasting impact of teleworking is up for grabs. Some experts say it is great and the wave of the future. Some say it has changed—or will change, and maybe destroy—office and work rhythms that have taken hundreds of years to perfect. And that they work.

According to the Gallup State of the American Workplace Report, “from 2012 to 2016, the number of employees working remotely increased from 39 to 43 percent.” And that report came out three years BEFORE COVID hit. A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that, like a major war or natural event (like climate change) can transform things literally overnight. People who lived through the Great Recession or World War II know and remember how quickly just about everything changed, and the impact those changes had. Everything from morals to medicine changed once the genie was out of the bottle. Is that the way it’s going to be with your professional life—all changed? 

Just a few months before COVID-19 was acknowledged as a problem, the government had turned away from two decades of slow growth in teleworking. The Trump vs. Unions war (which has fault on both sides) produced what many thought was the death knell of teleworking in most federal offices. Unions were deprived of rent-free government office space and teleworking at a half-dozen agencies was either shutting down or being relegated to 1980s style experimental programs. 

But that was then—before the pandemic gobsmacked the world.

Now experts are divided over the value (and downsides) of teleworking both on companies/agencies, customers and workers. Will people get more done? And, if they will move, will they move to a lower-cost area (like one of the towns that these days are offering people with jobs $10,000 payments and subsidized housing.) The idea is to improve the tax base and schools. But at what cost?  What if you could move from your Manhattan IRS or Social Security office to a lower-cost, less-driven community in Pennsylvania? Or the Ozarks? What would you gain vs. what would you be giving up? If the trend back toward telework continues to take off, will Uncle Sam (Congress) allow a GS-13 employee based in Washington DC continue to earn the same amount as a remote worker? 

A surprising number of people said either that they had reached the job level they like and weren’t interested in further promotions.  Some said not being in the office would make it tougher to get promotions.

Geoff in Philadelphia said he thought working from home—thanks to technology—was as good or better than life at the office. “From a career/promotion standpoint, we may need to check our boss’s Myers-Briggs to evaluate whether face time ranks high in establishing credibility. Will he or she believe my promise to deliver, if they cannot read my expression? Will he or she be looking at their staffing list or alternatively looking for faces when a new opportunity arises? On the other hand, will attrition increase as competitors offer more opportunities which do not require relocation?

Last promotion? What do you think?

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2021 Digital Almanac

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