FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz.,- The COVID-19 pandemic quickly became a reality for the NETCOM workforce in early March 2020. Almost immediately employees saw changes in all facets of their daily work, as the Command incorporated maximum telework, health and safety precautions, social distancing guidance, quarantine and Restriction of Movement (ROM), and other measures. However, active duty military, their families, and DA civilians alike have continued permanent change of station (PCS) moves within CONUS and abroad throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, demonstrating the NETCOM G1’s excellent on-boarding services.
Since the challenges began in March, NETCOM has on-boarded 419 new Department of Army civilian employees by virtually.
A large percentage of these newly appointed DA civilians have not yet entered the NETCOM office environment, or met their supervisors or co-workers in-person due to current COVID-19 safety measures.
Interestingly enough, these safety measures have not increased the time it takes an employee to fill a vacant position.
In most cases, an Exception to Travel (ETP) must be approved prior to the PCS or on-boarding of an employee. Regardless, NETCOM staff elements have been quick to respond to this extra step in the on-boarding process and ensure the ETP is completed in conjunction with the final job offer process.
The Army issued guidance, brought on by COVID-19, which implemented a change to the current on-boarding processes for new employees. This change allowed Civilian Personnel Advisory Centers (CPACs) and Agency Directors to administer the Oath of Office virtually to new employees and allow all on-boarding forms to be signed electronically.
In addition to the new on-boarding processes, the Army also implemented deferred drug testing and physical requirements for new employees until after they were on-boarded. These new measures streamlined the on-boarding process, as some facilities closed following COVID-19 safety measure.
Since March 2020, the workforce began leveraging tools, such as teleconference calls and chat applications (e.g., Swift, Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft TEAMS) in order to minimize mission degradation.
As an example, Microsoft TEAMS is used to support the Department of Army within the larger-scale teleworking environment. The tool is just one of several available to the workforce and provides remote workers with enhanced collaboration capabilities, simplifying and negating the need for most face-to-face meetings and discussions.
As a result of this technology, the workforce need not attend most in-person gatherings or meetings at the worksite, helping HR in the on-boarding process.
COVID-19 may permanently change the way many of us work and how we execute our mission, however NETCOM hiring officials and Human Resource personnel have collaboratively developed and executed innovative processes this year that will forever influence future civilian recruitment and hiring.
NETCOM never closed. The mission continued with a guiding principle of protecting the health and safety of our workforce and NETCOM was able to quickly shift to maximum telework.
Editor’s note: The author of the article is a NETCOM G1 Intern who has been closely involved with the on-boarding process during the pandemic.