Biden White House Wants Remote Federal Workers Back In The Office

The Biden administration last week revealed its desire for federal workers to return to offices in the nation’s capital on a regular basis. This marks a notable shift from the extended time the White House encouraged remote work due to COVID-19.

On Thursday, White House Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jason Miller issued a memo to federal employees.

It read in part, “The guidance we are releasing today directs agencies to refresh their Work Environment plans and policies.” The goal of federal agencies should be to “substantially increase in-person presence in the office.”

For glaring evidence of the change that remote work wrought by COVID-19 lockdowns continues to bring, look no further than the streets of the nation’s capital.

Observers note that the once thriving main business district has yet to recover from people being forced to shelter in place during the pandemic. Over three years later, the streets remain strangely desolate as workers continue to perform their duties at home.

Many Washington leaders, particularly Republicans, believe the shift back to the office is overdue. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) recently observed on the House floor that “as the rest of America went back to work in person, many federal workers did not.”

He declared that it is the American people who have suffered as a result of this reluctance. Comer related stories of incredible difficulties in attempting to get service from the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, and veteran’s records.

This, he said, is due to prolonged remote work.

Federal employees make up one out of three downtown Washington D.C. jobs, and many do not want to return to the office. However, they now face what many throughout the country already dealt with — the end of pandemic-related accommodations.

Specifically, the federal government’s Public Health Emergency is set to expire May 11. With that official recognition comes the expectation that most will return to in-person work.

Shalanda Young, the White House Office of Management and Budget director, noted in a memo that routines must be adjusted to return completely to the office.

She noted that “with the planned conclusion of the health emergency, it is the right time for agencies to assess their work environments.” Part of this process, Young added, is to “substantially increase meaningful in-person work at Federal offices, particularly at headquarters and equivalents.”