Commission staff and leadership report higher productivity during mass telework and more benefits than drawbacks.
General staff and supervisors at the Consumer Product Safety Commission have taken so well to teleworking through the COVID-19 pandemic that most hope to be in the office less than three days a week once the crisis passes.
In a newly released report, the agency inspector general detailed responses to a poll of 318 CPSC employees conducted from Sept. 17-25, 2020, in which employees and supervisors reported higher levels of productivity, satisfaction with leadership and the IT help desk and a desire to institute more teleworking in the future. Employees also showed a preference for non-agency-approved video conferencing platforms.
Despite working from home with, arguably, less management supervision and more distractions, half of the respondents said they were more productive teleworking, with another 40% stating they were at least as productive now.
“Of the 26 respondents who reported being less productive, 13 of them worked either in the lab, or in the field,” the report notes.
Among the 318 responses were 51 supervisors, accounting for about 56% of the agency’s management positions. Those leaders echoed the belief that the workforce has been as or more productive since the start of mass teleworking.
“None of the supervisors believed that their staff were less productive,” according to the report.
Employees were similarly happy with agency leadership, particularly when it came to the level of communication. Employee response was overwhelmingly positive, with 85% saying they received the right amount of information from acting Chairman Robert Adler. That number was 88% for Executive Director Mary Boyle and 68% for the Office of Human Resource Management.
While the remainder largely stated they were not receiving enough information, almost none of the respondents said they were receiving too much information.
Almost all of those numbers improved when employees were asked about the frequency of communications.
Employees had similarly high marks for the IT help desk. Of the 267 respondents who said they reached out to the help desk for assistance with teleworking issues, 84% said the staff was able to help with their issues.
The survey also showed employees’ video conferencing habits, including a preference for non-agency-approved platforms.
“The agency supports two videoconferencing tools, WebEx and Skype,” the IG report states. “However, two of the unsupported tools, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, received the highest scores for audio and video quality and ease of screen sharing and meeting setup.”
Overall, employees and supervisors, alike, reported having a more favorable view of telework now than when the pandemic started.
“The general staff responses indicated that 93% had become more favorable towards telework and 7% had become less favorable,” the report states. “Of the 14 supervisors who reported that their opinion on telework has changed, all agreed it has become more favorable.”
And both groups stated they would like to see more telework post-pandemic, with employees across the board, on average, that “the optimal number of days in the office per pay period is three or fewer.”