Technological inclusiveness and maintenance of culture will be taken into account in the federal government’s shift to hybrid work


What will hybrid work in government look like?

In many cases, the federal memo says, agencies and sub-organizations “will allow and plan for an increased ratio of telework to on-site work, for more employees, compared to agency work environments before the pandemic. “.

Such arrangements could include, for some employees, “a balanced mix of off-site and on-site work, including meeting business operations, team building and other needs,” the note said.

“For other employees, such arrangements could mean teleworking most of the time or almost full time, with the obligation for general annex employees to report to the agency’s work site at least twice a day. pay period to receive the local rate associated with the agency’s job site, ”according to the note.

Hybrid work tools will need to be inclusive and support the capabilities and disabilities of all users, according to Daniel Pomeroy, Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Service Administration’s Office of Integrity and Access to Information. generals.

During a July 7 webinar hosted by GovLoop, Pomeroy noted that agencies will face challenges integrating on-site and remote employees while maximizing individual capabilities.

“It is incumbent upon all of us to make accommodations and to be fully inclusive,” he said, according to MeriTalk.

Going forward, Pomeroy said, agencies need to know which tool sets they have – and which don’t – so they can help all users focus on the agency’s mission.

“Agencies should assess and provide reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of employees, whether they are text-to-speech functionality or audio descriptions,” he said. “And if we’re proactive in this effort to create a toolset that has a high level of inclusion, then we can maximize a larger workforce.”

FREE RESOURCES: Prepare your agency for a new way of working.

Maintaining culture is essential to hybrid work

This inclusiveness extends to the culture of the office. Barbieri said it is important to adopt a “philosophy of access to information and making sure everyone feels included”.

“And so, one of the rules that we’ve set for our team – and I know other leaders who have done that as well – is that if it’s a virtual meeting, everyone is virtual. “she said. “Even if three people are in the same building or in the same location, everyone has that kind of quality of being in the same system, of being one of the little boxes on the screen with the same audio issues. and the same difficulties of maybe getting into a conversation. “

Sherry Van Sloun, deputy director of national intelligence for human capital at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said agency leaders need to become more “intentional” when engaging digitally with teleworkers.

“There’s just going to be cultural shifts in the way we think about engaging with each other and looking for ways to communicate differently while staying engaged,” she said during a FedInsider webinar on June 15, according to MeriTalk. “I think that’s going to be an area of ​​growth for all of us, because we’re kind of getting down to the middle and lower level managers to really find ways to engage and continue that communication that you know had the used to take place every day while we saw each other at the office.

Barbieri also stressed the importance of being intentional when it comes to communication and “be careful not to have side discussions or people feeling left out as there is a core group with maybe only one or two people who are on the video system “.

TO EXPLORE: How does the Ministry of Defense support teleworking?

“So I would say that one of the things you struggle with here is just making people understand – especially if they’re not used to being the distant person – what that feels like, and appreciating that.” kind of deliberate focus around communication is really important to continue to keep your community together, ”she added.

Barbieri explained how, in the midst of the pandemic, his team set up a virtual channel to allow employees to post “random thoughts, which they did this weekend, to ask a question about a passion that ‘they have or a hobby, to replace that relaxed interaction you might have in the dining room because people didn’t have that.

She stressed that it was becoming more important for employees to “fill in certain social gaps” for their colleagues and to take more care of the health and well-being of each.

Susan Kalweit, Senior Associate for Culture and Leadership Excellence at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, told the June 15 webinar that there should be workforce training focused on creation. an inclusive culture and environment for the whole team ”. She noted that some employees will likely be excited to return to the office, while others will be worried.

“Culture always comes down to the human and what humans feel,” Kalweit said. “What we came to recognize during COVID as emotional resilience, I think, continues to be a very valid need in this post-pandemic environment. “


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