The Department of the Air Force has moved towards formalizing their position on telework and remote work after the lessons learned gathered in the past year. The Air Force updated their guidance for all civilian employees and service members worldwide, to include active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen and active duty Guardians in order to clarify and expand telework and remote work use within the department. The program is still waiting for a comprehensive review.

Normalizing Telework Options in the Air Force

“The Department of the Air Force is using lessons learned about teleworking and remote work during the pandemic as an opportunity to grow,” said John Fedrigo, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs. “The pandemic has shown we can be successful using telework in many areas of our mission, and it helps to bridge our current force structure to the force we need for the future.”

Commanders and supervisors will determine eligibility based on the nature of the work and whether telework or remote work would negatively impact the mission. Ineligible positions will be considered for emergency or situational allowances.

The guidance also distinguished between remote work and telework, designating a remote position as a permanent arrangement happening in a separate geographic location from the assigned unit. The Air Force also outlined conditions needed for a separate, remote worksite, including expectations and necessary equipment. By formalizing the program, it has the ability to be more widely applied and adjusted as needed.

“Telework and remote work provides additional tools and options to help us recruit and retain the right talent to compete in the high-end future fight,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “With remote work, we can now attract someone with the specialized skills we need and not require them to relocate when it makes sense for the mission, the individual and a member’s development. We recognize the value these flexible work arrangements can have, in some circumstances, to enhance work-life balance and maximize organizational productivity.”

Contractors Part of the Discussion

As contractors also consider remote work options, they also have to weigh the balance between customer support and attracting top talent. While some agencies are in support of the switch to hybrid or remote work, many are beginning to question how productivity in the current environment is being measured, as well as, what is really feasible.

“We are also working with our clients to come up with updated delivery models—for example, in the future, a team may have designated onsite teams supported by remote team members,” said Aimee George Leary, Talent Strategy Officer at Booz Allen. “In a secure environment working with classified information, this model would allow teams of skilled workers on the low side to develop solutions using notional data and hand them off to teams of client-side integration teams to execute. It opens up tremendous opportunities for new talent as well as current employees by removing the barrier of location and the expense of relocation or travel.”

Need for Clear Guidance

The narrative this past year has included phrases like, “I don’t ever want to go back to the office!” or “I’m so much more productive at home.” While those claims are true for some, in other offices, adding in remote work has added to the stress for employees who are at the office. Some have commented that flexible schedules have led to more work for the designated on-site employees. The argument is that the same level of work has to be completed, and if efficiency is impacted – whether through a slower response from someone on a different work-from-home schedule or simply because the majority do not have an approved at-home SCIF – then its the employees at the office who have to make magic happen that day.

As the Air Force, and contractors like Booz Allen, formalize their remote work and telework guidance, they set the standard for identifying expectations and establishing productivity measures.




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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.