Not too long ago, the opportunity to work from home was something of a novelty. But with 2020 and the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the serious realities of viral transmission suddenly made crowded offices a dangerous prospect. Almost overnight, the world’s workforce shifted from in-office to at-home. And even with vaccine efforts gaining traction and a possible return to normalcy somewhere on the horizon, employees and employers across industries are recognizing the many advantages of remote work.
And the government is no different.
Want to work from home for the government? Here are five things you should know.
The Government Was an Early Champion of Telecommuting
Modern telecommuting can be traced back to the 1990s, when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration established the Federal Flexible Workplace Pilot Project. Its goal was to assess the benefits and challenges of allowing government employees to work at locations other than government offices.
The results of this and following initiatives demonstrated the significant benefits of telecommuting, including improved productivity, reduced costs, improved employee morale, and more.
Many Government Agencies Offer Remote-Work Options
Whatever your interests or experience, chances are there is a government remote-work option that will fit your needs. NASA, the Department of Defense, the Justice Department, Homeland Security, the Treasury, and the US Census Bureau are just a few areas known to hire for telework jobs. In fact, thanks to the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, agencies are required to create a telework plan and fulfill certain requirements to encourage its use.
There Are Laws and Regulations You Will Need to Know
Not all government agencies deal in top-secret documents, but essentially all of them are responsible for handling sensitive information of one kind or another. Each department and agency will have its own laws, regulations, and best practices that you’ll be expected to become fluent in if you want to work from home for the government.
These should be provided to you by your employer when you are hired. That said, laws and regulations are worth researching in more detail on your own as you apply for government remote-work positions. The more you know about compliance regulations, the better prepared you’ll be. Telework.gov offers training, legislation, FAQs, and other resources to help you get started.
Communication is Vitally Important
Often, one of the most difficult aspects of remote work is keeping everyone in the loop. Email and communication platforms are a good start, but to ensure a productive, successful experience, you’ll need to go further. Know what is expected of you in terms of availability. Although working from home will likely offer you more freedom to select your work hours, you will still need to be available for things like regular team huddles, check ins, conference calls, and emergency meetings.
It’s essential that you and your employer agree upon which communication channels you will be using so that important messages don’t end up getting lost or forgotten in the shuffle. Also, it’s worth mentioning the importance of face-to-face communication in any work setting. When you can’t meet in person, video conferencing is the next best thing.
You’ll Need the Right Tools
When you work from home for the government, you need access to certain hardware and software resources. In some cases, your employer may supply you with your basic equipment, or will reimburse you for equipment expenses. Likewise, many departments, agencies, teams, etc., will have their preferred platforms for helping facilitate communication and coordination.
One vital technology for successful government telework is a document management system (DMS). An effective DMS does more than just store and retrieve electronic documents; it incorporates advanced automation technologies in the form of “workflow.” Once vital documents are added to the system, workflow automatically sorts and stores these documents or sends them along to the relevant parties for approval. Workflow automation effectively eliminates the dangers of lost or misfiled documents. And when DMS is incorporated into a cloud-based platform, authorized users can access securely protected documentation and relevant DMS tools from any device, anywhere in the world, at any time.
For an at-home solution worthy of government-level security and accuracy, eFileCabinet DMS is the answer. Click here to learn more.
The pandemic won’t last forever. But even once COVID-19 is in the past, working from home may be an integral part of the new normal. The federal government is committed to promoting more telework opportunities. And with eFileCabinet, you’ll have the tools you need to do the work that matters for your country and your community.