The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that leads the government’s response to digital threats, will require employees in Washington, D.C. to increase in-office work in the new year.
A source familiar with the decision said employees in the capital region will be working onsite twice per biweekly pay period come Jan. 1.
“[The Office of Management and Budget] recently released guidance encouraging federal agencies to consider the balance between in-person work and remote work in the context of organizational health and performance,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Federal Times. “Given CISA’s critical mission as the nation’s cyber defense agency and national coordinator for critical infrastructure security and resilience, and the recognition that the national emergency to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, CISA will continue the transition to a strong hybrid posture.”
Come January, local remote work positions are also being reconsidered for telework classification. Remote workers outside of the national capital region are not affected by the decision.
The spokesperson said the agency will seek to strike an “important” balance between an environment that enhances productivity and accounts for employees’ wellbeing.
Last year, CISA Director Jen Easterly said during the pandemic, the agency transitioned 2,400 employees to remote work. In 2020, the agency was also responsible for issuing guidance to federal agencies to help their remote workers continue cybersecurity best practices.
Federal employees at other agencies are being given similar edicts by their departmental leadership, with many mandates taking effect this fall. The White House has said it expects agencies to naturally increase their in-person work where feasible, though how agencies configure work schedules is up to them and the unions who demand to bargain them.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Congress have said they are frustrated by agencies’ patchy reports on how many employees are still working from home, with another House Oversight committee hearing scheduled for Sept. 28.
In a recent survey of more than 900 employees conducted by Federal Times, about 41% of respondents said they’re teleworking less now than they were at the height of the pandemic, though 95% said they retain the ability to work from home at least some of the time.
Several agencies, including the the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Transportation, among others, have moved to increase in-office work as Congress has put increasing pressure on executive agencies to either cut back on telework or give up leases for empty office space.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.