National security workspaces have not necessarily been known for their flexibility. Ingenuity, yes. Mission focus? Absolutely. But the rigorous demands and rigid requirements necessary to safeguard classified information have frequently meant the decision to accept a classified job meant flexibilities like remote work would never be an option.

Post COVID-19, however, even the intelligence community is embracing a new normal that includes hybrid and remote work options for some employees.

Read more in our most recent white paper, Remote vs. Return to the Office: The Future is Flexible.

A March 2021 ClearanceJobs survey of defense industry professionals showed 82% of employers plan to continue offering remote work post COVID. Most employees will still need to return to the office – and a number of employees want to – but the data shows that moving forward, flexibility is truly key. Hybrid work options are important to balance employee safety and retention with the need to get classified missions accomplished.

Cleared candidates seek flexibility – not necessarily fully remote positions. Moving forward, the emphasis is on ensuring a safe workplace – and flexibility is a key part of that. Whether it’s supporting employees who need more time to be caregivers, or healthcare accommodations for immune-compromised individuals, employers – even in the national security space – are finding room for flexibility and accommodation.

“We’ve all been forced to innovate, and see this isn’t just a nice to have,” said Gabriel Alix, vice president of intelligence at Applied Insight. “It’s an expectation of the current and future workforce.” Alix emphasized remote work isn’t just an opportunity to provide a better work-life balance but to innovate.

That’s what organizations such as the Air Force Research Laboratory are doing. Their deviceONE initiative is making it possible – in limited capacities – for classified work to get done via a secure remote connection.

Technological enablement is key to securely doing sensitive work from a remote location. That doesn’t mean classified missions will move fully offline, but that all employers will need to embrace flexibilities that give more options to the cleared workforce.

“I think this is a must-have, and we’re at a really unique time,” said Andy Maner, CEO of Avantus Federal. “Nothing spurs action like a crisis, and we’re in it. So I think it’s all about careers, and career development.”


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Evan H. Lesser is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Before founding ClearanceJobs, Mr. Lesser managed technical projects with CACI for the U.S. Navy's Science and Technology directorate at the Pentagon, and for the Joint Technology Panel on Electronic Warfare. Previously, he worked for Boeing on its Reserve Component Automation System program for the U.S. Army in metro Washington, DC. Mr. Lesser has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Georgia in Athens, and lives and works in the Atlanta metropolitan area.