On-Site Work – Preferred By Superheroes

Why are so many government contracting firms struggling to fill their vacancies, and what might you be missing when it comes to considering work or remaining within this community?  Government contracting positions offer purposeful work, they’re plentiful, pay well, and tend to have amazing benefits. These jobs are also largely recession proof, and exist in every corner of the country.  So, what in the LL-Cool-J is going on in the world of government contracting hiring and retention? 

According to LinkedIn’s chief economist; prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, one in sixty-seven jobs posted on LinkedIn were remote opportunities. Fast forward to early 2022, and that number is about one in eight when I wrote this.  I can tell you this with confidence – most  remote jobs posted online do not come from employers who are focused on delivering solutions or services to our government. I can also tell you that many of the jobs posted as “on-site only” are from employers who would actually consider hiring a remote employee if they can’t find their first choice locally. Because most government and government contracting organizations offer mainly in-office positions, this makes it even more difficult for these organizations that are working extra hard to maintain healthy levels of talent. One more stat worth noting; according to statistics published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence(ODNI), security clearances are down by approximately 17% since 2013.

You may be reading this and thinking, so what? You are gainfully employed, mostly content with your position and employer, and you are loving remote work. It appeals to you for its flexibility, convenience, and the opportunity to work for your preferred employer, whether or not they exist on the opposite side of the country, or world for that matter. And who would blame you for finding any of that appealing? It is also easy to find remote positions.  In many cases, these opportunities come to you in the form of countless recruiter in-mails, emails, text messages, and even phone calls. At the least, you find yourself curious about what is being offered. And in the right moment and with the right opportunity, you find yourself interested in pursuing it. Now, imagine you are a government contractor stuck working in an “office-first” environment, who is barraged by the same offers.  You can see why remote work is one factor having an impact on the hiring in government contracting firms, and in developing, as well as maintaining talent possessing clearances.

There are thousands of government and government contracting roles across the country that, in most instances, require you to get dressed and participate in the morning commute. Oftentimes, this is a daunting ritual if you live and work within the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Yes, there can be flexibility in these roles allowing for periodic telework, working “nine nine’s” and similar, but in-office positions are no comparison to the flexibility afforded by a full-time remote position, or the popular new hybrid set-up. 

So why would you stay in or even consider government contracting? I’m here to tell you that it’s not as archaic, and regimented as you might believe. There are certainly government agencies that offer remote opportunities. For example, the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO moved 13,000 employees to remote positions in March, 2021. That’s 13,000 new secure VPN connections, and an estimated 1,200 secure tele-meetings each day that had to be set up and planned. That translated to a lot of interesting jobs (and careers) involving government contractors who were relied upon just to be able to support and pull this work model off.

As the above example shows, government contracting is not all “defense” related, as many people think of first when it comes to this type of work. As this example shows, the option for remote work flexibility exists in government contracting depending on the mission you want to support. Now, if only we had a solution for helping job seekers identify the right mission and the right work flexibility within government contracting organizations! (Shameless self promotion of ScuttleGov here!) The mission of  our government and its workforce includes maintaining social order, making public services available, and sustaining the security and defense of the nation, aka, the backbone of society. But when you start peeling the layers of this onion back, wholly-smokes Batman, there’s some really sexy careers within these missions. Speaking of Batman and sexy careers supporting the government – aren’t all superheroes working in some way on behalf of their government? 

However, I’m not convinced that any superhero can be effective working completely remotely.  With so many friends, family, peers, and news stories painting images of greener pastures of remote positions where you write your own offer and set your own schedule, it can be easy to lose sight of the downsides that are often found in a fully remote position. It’s also true that most organizations still don’t know how to keep remote employees engaged as much as their in-office counterparts. Oh, and last I checked, superheroes are still showing up to the scene of the crime in person, not Zoom! 

So, before you discount an on-site position, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you learn and grow in a remote position as much as you might working around other talented co-workers, managers, and leaders?
  • Can you mentor other’s as well as you’d like and as deeply as your employer and mission are counting on? 
  • Are you social and feel energized by human connection? Can you get that sought after serotonin hit via web-conferencing, phone calls, and office messaging apps?
  • What about technology? Have you ever had trouble getting work done because of a Wi-Fi issue or problem connecting through your VPN?

In addition to these examples, don’t discount the power of office osmosis! This comes from the countless conversations that bubble up out of simply being around team members, sharing a lunch hour, impromptu meetings, and the overheard conversations that lead you to the next great idea, solution, innovation, or invention! Have you ever heard the expression, “two heads are better than one”? 

Pay attention professionals, the pendulum always swings back! What seems to be the hot new trend in working completely remotely will inevitably have to be calibrated against the reality that humans are social creatures with a driving force for purpose encoded in our DNA. Many government contractors recognize the benefits of on-site workers, creating flexible work arrangements (to the extent they can), and reward their employees for the important work they are doing on behalf of our Government and the citizens who rely on it. Government Contracting is indeed HOT and you should keep this industry on your short-list of careers to consider. Cape not included, but likely provided if you ask nicely!