This week, the Biden administration is working to expedite the return of the federal workforce back to the office. This plan is in light of the White House showing the country that in-person work can be safe.
As anticipated, President Biden spoke about this return to work in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again. People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office.” Biden continued, “We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.”
After almost two years of the pandemic, large amounts of the federal workforce still haven’t returned to the office. Agencies have had autonomy over their own policies regarding remote work, and are all currently in various stages of return.
Biden went on to say that vaccinations, boosters and declining hospitalizations and deaths are allowing an assimilation to shared spaces less risky and safer.
The White House’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has been coordinating with agencies on vaccine requirements and developing department-specific plans.
The CDC loosened masking guidelines on Friday, which will also be another factor to help with federal workers’ return.
A spokesperson for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget says federal workers’ return to their offices began stepping up late last year. A majority of workers already are back in some capacity, but that number will “substantially increase very soon,” the official said.
The federal civilian workforce numbers about 2.1 million, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Roughly half of the 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers who are members of the American Federation of Government Employees continued to work in-person throughout the pandemic because they simply cannot perform their jobs from home, AFGE’s policy director Jacqueline Simon said.
A Treasury official recently stated that although thousands of its employees have worked onsite throughout the pandemic, March 14th will mark the start of a nine-week transition to reentry for other employees, with 97% now vaccinated. “Reentry is a process, not an event,” the official said. “Employee safety remains a priority, and the Treasury will continually monitor local and national conditions.”
President Biden said that he would “soon send Congress a request” to implement reinstating the federal workforce into the workplace.
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