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Questions and answers

An agency should decide, at the outset, whether it will permit remote work. If it does, and believes requests for remote work may recur, it should establish a clear process by which an employee can make a request to work remotely. The agency policy could include requirements to conduct a formal and complete assessment of benefits and costs to determine if the arrangement is cost effective for the Government and the agency. There are various reasons why an employer might decide to approve remote work, including:

    • As a retention tool to maintain talent or institutional knowledge.
    • To acquire the knowledge needed for difficult to hire mission-critical talent or hard to find skillsets.
    • To help the agency achieve cost savings with real estate reductions (e.g., office closure, reduced footprint).
    • To help an employee balance work and family responsibilities (e.g., spouse required to relocate for their employment, parents with children whose schools may not be reopened).
    • To meet the demands of a changing workforce that wishes to have more flexibility.
    • To recruit diverse talent from areas of the country for which Federal employment has traditionally required relocation.

Additionally, if the agency contemplates making these opportunities available more than occasionally, the agency should consider establishing policies that make clear the criteria by which remote work arrangements will be evaluated and approved/disapproved to avoid perceptions of favoritism or unfair practices.

See OPM’s Evaluation Guide: Evidence-Based Strategies to Capture the Benefits and Costs of Work-Life Programs to learn more about Agency considerations prior to implementing telework and remote work.

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