As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, the Department of Defense (DoD) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks issued guidance on the reentry of DoD employees to their normal workplaces, stating that telework is here to stay.
In a March 16 memo, Hicks said telework will be incorporated into the DoD’s civilian employee human capital strategies and personnel policies. Hicks said these actions will build upon the “innovation and productivity gained through flexible workplace policies” during the pandemic.
“As we look at our reentry to the workplace, we can’t expect to return to ‘business as usual’,” Hicks said in a statement. “Throughout the pandemic, we learned a lot about how we can embrace telework and flexible schedules to achieve new efficiencies in the workplace. We will continue to embrace successful practices to promote a more resilient and productive workforce that can attract new talent and retain our top performers.”
The guidance instructs supervisors to discuss reentry plans for both teleworking and in-person employees. Unless there is an “urgent and compelling mission need,” DoD components will need to provide 30-days advance notice to a civilian employee before recalling or adjusting their work schedule.
“I encourage our components and supervisors to take this opportunity to review available workplace flexibilities they may wish to incorporate in the ‘future of work’,” Hicks said. “These last two years have not been easy, but our workforce has consistently risen to the challenge to achieve our mission requirements – we should seek to incorporate those lessons learned as we carry our workforce past this phase and into the future.”
Hicks said specific reentry plans will be dependent on organizational needs, the Health Protection Condition framework, and force health protection guidance.
The memo also provides several resources to assist components in preparing for workforce reentry, including employee assistance programs.