Employees at tech companies around the world are channeling their inner Patrick Henry and demanding liberty work from home options or else they quit. Over 35% claimed they would take their show on the road if their employer refused to meet the telework demands. Their outcry isn’t off base from a recent DoD Inspector General report. While no one claimed that they would quit if work from home options don’t change post pandemic, the responses were heavily in favor of the telework option.


Productivity at Home

The respondents overwhelmingly felt like work from home productivity levels were great. While 47% saw an increase in productivity, 41% felt like nothing changed for them. Leaders need to consider what’s behind the productivity feelings – and measure that. Or take a deep dive into what caused productivity issues for the 12% who said life was worse at home. A key ingredient in work from home support is flexibility and work-life balance.  Close on those heals – especially in the DC Metro area is that commute time has major impacts on quality of life. Less commuting means more time spent with the family or catching up on sleep.

Distractions and Interruptions

Many survey respondents cited less distractions and interruptions at home. There’s truth in those claims. Working from home, perhaps some may be more inclined to send an email instead of setting up a meeting. However, to play devil’s advocate, so far today, I have had to remove a deer tick from a child and give the sitter advice on what to look out for if the naughty puppy did in fact get into some Easter candy. So, I’d argue that sending everyone home has simply provided different distractions and interruptions, and for those who transfer back to the office, this time has provided some key lessons learned.

Trust – A Necessary and Often Missing Ingredient

I have yet to find someone who loves to be micromanaged. However, in many offices, it’s what happens. Enter telework onto the scene for everyone in federal government, and suddenly, leaders have to learn to trust employees in this new environment. Everyone loves to complain that federal employees cannot be fired – which isn’t true. Moving everyone to work from home means letting employees run with tasks with less oversight and relying on performance measurements.

In order for work from home to continue, leadership needs to trust their employees. Survey respondents made it clear to leadership that they want to be trusted. The feedback was clear: Stop assuming the worst about employees who telework.

Bottom Line on the Work From Home Argument

With over half of the 56,000 respondents saying that they want regular telework to be part of their future schedule, leaders have a clear answer on what the employees want. However, the DoD has some network connectivity issues to watch. Not only does the change add increased cybersecurity concerns, survey respondents also reported using home printers for work. While classified documents should not be in a home office, safe handling of controlled unclassified information (CUI) still needs to be tracked. Employees are overwhelmingly in favor of at least a hybrid telework option, which cannot be ignored in recruiting and retention conversations.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.