Former NYC Mayor Calls Time on Remote Work for Federal Employees

Michael Bloomberg expressed his growing concern over the state of remote work, particularly within US government offices.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Former NYC Mayor Calls Time on Remote Work for Federal Employees

In a thought-provoking opinion piece penned for The Washington Post this Tuesday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his growing concern over the state of remote work, particularly within US government offices.

Remote Work and Its Impact on Public Services

The billionaire co-founder of financial data and media company Bloomberg LP stated that the continued prevalence of remote work among government employees has begun to impact the quality of public services detrimentally.

According to Bloomberg, this widespread work-from-home setup has "negatively affected customer service" at some federal agencies. "Some people argue that remote work for federal employees isn't a problem. Tell that to the taxpayers who are footing the bill for empty floor space and the costs of maintenance," he admonished in the opinion piece.

Bloomberg further underlined a notable distinction between the private and public sectors. "In the private sector, if remote workers do a poor job, business suffers, and customers take their spending elsewhere. In the public sector, people just have to put up with poor service," he stated, underscoring the lack of market pressures that typically drive private companies to maintain high standards of customer service.

Bloomberg Cites Underutilized Federal Office Spaces

The former mayor referenced a recently published report from the Government Accountability Office. This document revealed that the average occupancy rate across 24 federal agencies is a little over 20% — a figure that Bloomberg wryly described as "mostly empty." "This has gone on too long.

The pandemic is over. Excuses for allowing offices to sit empty should end, too," he contended. The reference to the pandemic suggests his belief that remote work has overstayed its necessity as a measure taken to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Necessity of In-person Mentorship

Bloomberg ended on a note that underscored the benefits of in-person work, particularly for the development of younger employees. "Our managers have seen the benefits of returning to in-person work, and we have heard about those benefits from their teams, too, especially from young people just starting their careers," he wrote.

Highlighting the irreplaceable value of face-to-face mentorship, he asserted, "When senior managers are not present to mentor and nurture junior staff members, it hurts their professional development and prospects for career growth — and the future of the organization, too."

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