WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Biden return to office memo is a conversation starter with customers

Whatever the post-COVID workplace is getting a little clearer now that the White House has outlined how federal workers and contractors will return to federal facilities.

The Office of Management and Budget memo puts a lot of emphasis on safety for government and contractor employees and asks agencies to have plans in place for wider re-openings of their facilities by July 19.

Agencies need to update safety policies by incorporating the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I recommend you read my colleague Natalie Alms’ story on the memo at our sibling publication FCW.com.

Most intriguing to me is how the memo also wants agencies to look long-term at the office, or what a hybrid workplace and workforce could look like.

The expectation is that the workforce will be a mix of remote and in the office. A significant number of employees will likely be permanently remote.

This is a great opportunity for contractors to lead by example. Companies facing the same questions and pressure from workers as agencies are. But private businesses have greater flexibility that an agency. Or they should.

During the pandemic, companies have been experiencing benefits and the challenges of large-scale telework.

Start capturing your lessons learned, collect data on attrition, retention, flexible work hours and productivity if you haven't already. What techniques are you adopting to manage a workforce that you can’t walk down the hall and see?

Share the information with your customers.

That isn’t much different than adopting a new technology internally and then using your own example as a sales pitch to your customers.

Government agencies and government contractors face a similar challenge in hiring talent. If the government reverts to the workplace of the pre-COVID world, it’s just going to get harder and harder to recruit. That goes for agencies and contractors.

A lot of questions have to be considered. Some things will be hard because those will mean change. The technology part might be easy, but changes in management processes can be a challenge.

There are business considerations as well and I’ll admit I don’t understand all of it. For example, say you have a worker who’s on a customer site two days a week, in the company office one day a week and then works from home for the last two days.

How will rates and overhead charges change? Will you need a different rate for each location? You need to be thinking about that and more.

I’ve just scratched the surface here, but the memo is a great jumping off point to have a deep conversation with your customers.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 11, 2021 at 12:17 PM

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