telework (No-Mad/Shutterstock.com)

Feds say telework increases productivity


You’ve read it before, and you’ll definitely read it again. Most feds say the huge surge in telework necessitated by the COVID pandemic has one silver lining—a boost in productivity. 

In this case, a survey conducted by a major union finds that 80% of respondents report that their remote work helped them in completing tasks. 

The survey found “the federal and D.C. government employees we represent were more productive during the pandemic, even though the majority were working from home for the first time,” the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) stated, in a release. 

Sixty-two percent of people who responded to the survey said their productivity had increased “a lot,” and another 17% reported it increased by “a little.” Just 17% said there was no change, and a mere 4% reported a drop in productivity. 

“The firsthand experiences of the employees AFGE represents directly contradict the assumptions being made by certain lawmakers,” the union concluded. “[The results contradicted] that efficiency or productivity suffers when employees are permitted to telework. In fact, many federal worksites have reported increases in productivity during the pandemic even as most of their employees were working from home 100% of the time.” 

Another data point that makes the AFGE survey especially compelling is that fully 58% of the respondents did not telework before the COVID pandemic. Like so many other feds, in just a year or so most adapted well, and found telework added to their ability to do their work well. Not surprisingly, 77% of all respondents said they want to continue teleworking. 

Other recent studies likewise generally show stunning productivity improvements with telework. The Department of Defense’s own Office of Inspector General’s survey showed 47% of DOD employees reported their productivity got better, just over 41% said it stayed the same and just approximately 12% said their productivity fell. 

A total of 47% of respondents said their productivity increased during maximum telework, 41.1% said their productivity stayed the same and only 11.9% said their productivity decreased.

The most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, whose results were compiled from polling of feds done last year, but well after the COVID emergency began, likewise registered an 82 percent satisfaction rate among employees with federal telework. 

Feds, generally speaking, are more productive when they telework part- or full-time, and when there is adequate support and infrastructure behind coherent policy to help them accomplish their agency mission from remote locations. We can expect a mix telework and in-person assignments in the future, with the recent expansion in telework to remain a bigger part of the workplace picture for the foreseeable future.

Reader comments

Mon, Jul 19, 2021 George

To "There might be ... " Do you really think most people on telework are feds gone bad? Or BAD as you wrote it? I don't. I think almost all are trying to do a decent job and not goofing off most of the time. I think this is going to still be a hybrid for most, where they'll see the supervisor and their fellow workers and be evaluated and do teamwork so it will be obvious if they blow off most of the work.

Fri, Jul 16, 2021

Salt Lake commenter has a point. We all know it happens. Not every department though. Maybe more safeguards. Agency heads should have to come up with some kind of criteria that's sturdy.

Fri, Jul 16, 2021

Older generation thinks like Salt Lake City, I do the job of three boomers who insist on going into the office everyday for cheesecake parties…

Thu, Jul 15, 2021 Salt Lake City, UT

There might be a few good honest teleworkers but there are lot of BAD Federal teleworkers who rely on hearing the "ding" of incoming e-mail to stop watching TV, texting, sleeping, etc. and then jump back online. Many supervisors NEVER check on work completed. At my agency, HR tracks productivity by miles saved not WORK completed! Go figure....

Thu, Jul 15, 2021

In completely unrelated news, 100% of Feds said that doubling their salaries would also lead to increased productivity...

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