Remote work has been popular at private businesses for years now.  Employees value it as a job perk.  Commute time is eliminated.  Businesses that use it extensively don’t need as much office space, lowering overhead.  It’s even been found to be good for employee health, on balance.

This time, however, might be different. Here’s why:

It’s Mandatory.  The work-from-home alternative is typically offered to employees who want it, and they’re able to use it on the days where it makes the most sense.  This time, however, many employees are being forced to use it even if they don’t do well working inside of their homes.  They’re also forced to do it even for tasks they’d typically do at the office.  There’s a big difference between an optional alternative work environment and a mandatory one.

It’s Continual.  Most people in the federal government who telework do so a few days a month, and this is likely true for state employees as well.  Most public service jobs involve components that are best done in a group setting, and most people don’t enjoy the isolation of continual telework.  In this case, however, it’s five days a week.

It Doesn’t Enable Freedom.  One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that it often allows employees more flexibility. It’s easier to take a break during the day to meet friends for lunch, go to the gym, or pick up children from school.  In many parts of the country, however, none of those activities are allowed during any time of the day right now.

With such a lack of options available to pursue outside of the house, some employees may not leave their houses for days at a time.  While team meetings can provide a break from having to use a screen in the office, nearly all work will require a screen during this time.   This much screen time is associated with stress and depression among adults.

Because of these facts, human resources teams should spend some time figuring out how to support their employees during this time.  Help managers promote team communication and morale.  Encourage healthy movement throughout the day. Identify techniques to ensure employees are taking care of their mental health by paying attention to their stress and depression levels.  Keep employees apprised of the decisions being made by top officials at the agency regarding mandatory telework, including why it’s required and when it might end.  One major benefit of this: once it’s over, most employees will be happier than ever to be at the office (or anywhere that isn’t their house!).

To learn how CMTS:HR can help your HR investigations team close cases more efficiently (even from home) call us at 919-747-3812 or email us  at