News and Insights

Work From Home Best Practices 

Joe Abusamra | April 2, 2020

In an effort to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal employees are being granted the required flexibility to work from home. The Office of Personnel Management published updated guidelines to their telework policy in response to high risks presented by the virus, which details authorizations surrounding telework, alternative work schedules, and safety and sick leave. 

According to the OPM, all federal agencies will remain open until further notice, but with “maximum telework flexibilities” for all eligible employees. For many employees in the federal space, this urgent and unforeseen telework request may cause unease due to the sudden shift in processes. However, the OPM laid out a few guidelines to ensure that employees are taking precautionary measures when working from home. To break down a few best practices for working remotely in the federal space, we rounded up some information to consider from various experts in the field. Take a look:


Work from Home Best Practices

Keep a Routine Intact

To conduct an effective telework day, employees should perform an equal amount of work from home as they would during a typical day at the office. According to OPM’s Questions and Answers on HR Flexibilities for Coronavirus, employees must perform a sufficient amount of tasks to cover the entirety of a work from home day. That being said, employees should shift their daily routines from the office to their homes so that they can achieve an equally productive day. One frequently asked question is “What happens if I run out of work?” In this case, it is essential that employees ask for more tasks from their supervisors. By doing so, workers can continue the flow of daily duties and avoid having to use their leave.

Be Mindful of Phishing Attempts

According to CNBC, one key factor of working from home that all employees need to be extra cautious of is an increase in phishing attempts by malicious cybercriminals. Since telework in the federal space requires the use of an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) solution, an organization’s IT network becomes vulnerable to hackers. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a cyber checklist for organizations implementing telework during this time, encouraging federal employees to keep an eye out for suspicious emails or websites used to compromise critical organization details.

Remain Engaged with Real-Time Chat

For most federal employees, engagement is strengthened every day with the ability to learn and create alongside in-house coworkers. When switching to a telework routine, remote employees can utilize technology to continue the conversation. One of the first tasks that employees likely take care of when entering the office is reading through emails. Any projects for the day and questions from supervisors or coworkers can be handled quickly by following up with an in-person conversation. To maintain this routine, employees should look for ways to prevent an overflowing email inbox. Many organizations provide real-time chat platforms or video conferencing to enhance visual connections, even when employees are located in different work environments. If you come across an issue or question that would normally be solved with a face-to-face chat, consider requesting a quick video call with your supervisor or coworker to get a better understanding of the task at hand. For more information on the best real-time chat platforms to help you remain engaged while working remotely, check out these tips from CNET. 

Utilize Downtime to Upskill

The OPM requires federal employees who are teleworking to accomplish enough work so that it fills up a typical day at the office, but due to a change in setting it is possible that employees find themselves with a bit of extra free time. The elimination of commute time, ability to take a lunch break at home, and other similar circumstances could equate to a few extra minutes in the day. If you find yourself in this situation, use it to your advantage and focus on upskilling! Engaged employees frequently have a clear vision of growth in their careers, and with the wonderful resources the internet has to offer, advancement in knowledge can be achieved from your kitchen table. If your agency offers Learning Management Software (LMS), take some time to explore the educational videos and online training sessions included. Social distancing is no reason to stop learning!

As agencies implement telework capabilities for their employees during these unprecedented circumstances, the federal space must remain hopeful and informed. Maintaining peak workforce performance, planning, and engagement while employees work from home may be difficult, but agencies can continue to make an impact by rallying together. To learn more about tools and solutions your organization can use to improve performance, check out GovStrive’s workforce strategy and talent management solutions.