Whether teleworking from home or reporting to sparsely populated offices, COVID-19 is changing Army workspaces. As we experience the stress brought by uncertainty and non-traditional office situations, it’s a good time to do a self-check and ensure we all do our part to keep our work environments free of harassment.
Understanding what harassment is and how it can destroy a work environment - even during a mass-telework implementation - can reinforce a positive workflow and enable us to best achieve our Army mission.
Workplace harassment based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, reprisal or any other impermissible basis is not acceptable in either the military or civilian ranks.
Harassment includes, but is not limited to, any offensive conduct such as slurs, jokes or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment.
During these times, I call on you to remain vigilant. Pay attention to yourself and stay in tune with how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. Take the time to develop a daily routine, start a nutritious meal plan and exercise regimen. Learn to practice some form of relaxation technique, such as deep breathing or yoga, and limit your viewing time to news and social media sites.
Taking good care of ourselves will influence our work behaviors. While we rely more heavily on email, text messages and social media to communicate, our tone can get lost in the transmission. While there may be a tendency to be more casual now in our communications that may lead to messaging that can be more easily misinterpreted, misunderstood or misconstrued.
Take the time to ensure your electronic and online messages convey your intention. Whether your telework environment provides an opportunity for you to laser focus or you have competing distractions – take a minute to think through responses to ensure clarity and professionalism.
As leaders at all levels are communicating more on social media platforms, be mindful that the casualness of social media communication doesn’t seep into your work environment. Don’t resort to sending memes or joke emails to replace the conversations you may be missing from the office environment.
Even if a single utterance, joke or act does not rise to the level of actionable harassment under the law, such conduct is contrary to Army values.
The Army calls on us to apply the “Think, Type, Post” guide when participating online and on social media platforms.
• "Think" about what message/information is being communicated and who could potentially view it
• "Type" messages or convey information that is consistent with the Army Values
• "Post" if the message/information is responsible and demonstrates dignity and respect for others.
The Army is committed to developing and maintaining a professional workplace in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. Let’s all do our part and remember we are in this together.