Industry runs back into the office while the government threads its shoelaces
I’ve met people. Literally.
Most of the Federal News Network / WTOP offices have been reoccupied with people who have teleworked since March last year. Having owned a sizeable piece of office property all to myself at that time, I had grown accustomed to roaming around in silence with very few others around. Now when I leave a long corridor that leads to the editorial office, I have to look in both directions. There are other people who walk around purposefully.
For those who, like me, kept coming into the office, seeing the features of people under the bridge of their noses was a revelation.
It took me almost a year to develop the autonomous habit of putting a mask on when I left my own studio to enter the bullpen. Now it feels a little strange Not to mask.
But let me tell you, when people work together or at least side by side under one roof, the energy and extent of collaboration increases.
Not everyone returns full-time at one time. Many people work remotely some days, some in the office. Like so many organizations, our ownership has made two types of investments in response to the pandemic. The financial investment acquired technology that enabled people to work remotely as well as effectively. The other investment – less tangible but no less real – is the psychological mix of decision making, trust, and belief that could mostly work remotely.
Because of these sunken investments, businesses remain in hybrid mode. The future-oriented realize two important insights. And I thank Toni Townes-Whitley, President of Microsoft’s Public Sector, for helping me crystallize my thinking.
- From an employee engagement perspective, most people are happy with the hybrid option because they don’t have to endure the day-to-day work or the isolation at home.
- From an organizational perspective, agencies have found speed and flexibility muscles that they didn’t know they had. Townes-Whitley cites the Department of Defense, routinely a bureaucracy burdened with, for example, indolence. But within a month it set up its Commercial Virtual Remote Environment (CVR). At its peak, CVR enabled 2.3 million users to work remotely. It is now disabled, but DoD retains capabilities with a successor structure. Maybe the DoD will make a fist, bend an arm, and get the succession plan underway in a month’s time. May be.
Personally, as a guy who works in the office every day, I like Hybrid because it keeps traffic under control.
Government workers are cautious and their leadership culture is low risk. Which could explain the White House “re-entry” memo from a few weeks ago. It is detailed and vague at the same time, it is a compilation of many ideas – but a challenge as a guide.
A typical passage: âAs set out in Section IV (B) (4), before increasing the number of employees in the physical workplace, an agency must complete its phased plan for re-entry and post-re-entry and ensure that it has an updated COVID in place -19 work safety plan in accordance with the current CDC guidelines, meet all applicable collective bargaining obligations and inform all affected employees in good time. “
Today are due today drafts of “proposed approaches to human resource policy and post-reintegration work environment”. Draft proposals. You still have a month ahead of you design Timetables for graduated Re-entry into the White House due.
The flaw in the document – or what I recognize will be seen by many as its strength – lies in its aim to bring two things together. Namely, the practical issue of getting people back to their offices and the Biden administration’s desire to somehow make federal employment more desirable.
The memo states: “Agency executives can use topics such as teleworking, remote working and flexible working hours as tools for their broader strategies for talent recruitment and retention, as well as promoting diversity, equality, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce.”
That’s all well and good, but it makes the immediate challenge of reopening doors a lot harder than it has to be.
Almost useless factoid
By Alazar Moges
The first practical, commercial use of vending machines in the United States was in 1888. Vending machines were mostly penny candy until 1926, when cigarette vending began with the popular soft drink vending machine a decade later.