In-person work is coming for federal employees

Biden administration calls for policy shift after Real Estate Roundtable push

A photo illustration of U.S. President Joe Biden (Getty)
A photo illustration of U.S. President Joe Biden (Getty)

President Joe Biden’s administration appears to have heeded calls from a real estate industry group pushing to call federal employees back to the office. 

The Biden administration last week requested new workplace guidelines to “substantially” boost the amount of in-person work, the Commercial Observer reported. The Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to dozens of federal agencies, calling on guidelines to be revamped as soon as this spring.

White the OMB letter called for more in-person work, it allowed for the idea that remote work would remain critical going forward.

“It is the expectation that as a part of these assessments agencies will continue to substantially increase meaningful in-person work at federal offices, particularly at headquarters and equivalents, while still using flexible operational policies as an important tool in talent recruitment and retention,” the letter read.

The administration’s push appears to come in response to the Real Estate Roundtable, an industry group composed of ownership, development, lending and management firms, as well as trade associations. The group urged Biden in a December letter to do more to bring federal employees back to the office, citing the federal government’s influence in the health of the office market.

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The group last week sent a second letter, this time with a more critical message to the Senate, calling on Congress to suspend federal telework rules.

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The industry group has cited the federal government’s massive share of the office market in its push for change to work policies. The General Services Administration, responsible for federal government leases, is the country’s largest office tenant with more than 43 million square feet.

A survey of two dozen federal agencies last year found that two-thirds of the agencies planned to cut their number of leases over three years, while all but five were looking at reducing square footage.

Holden Walter-Warner