Civilian Personnel Advisory Center officials offer suggestions for ‘new landscape’ of telework
The new landscape of civilian federal government employment during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 global outbreak looks strikingly similar to your house. That’s because most likely it is, say U.S. Army personnel advisors. In an effort to protect the health of the military workforce while maintaining operational momentum, many organizations are sending civilian employees home. Telework has expanded to meet the need. (Photo courtesy of April Gail Pilgrim) (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – For two years, Army Materiel Command has maximized telework driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions lift and cases decline, AMC is shifting to a 21st Century Workplace model that integrates workforce flexibilities.

“We’re coming out, and moving into what I’d consider a normalized, operational environment, and moving toward September (30) when we’re likely to see the eventual lift of the max-directed telework,” said Maj. Gen. Walt Duzzny, AMC chief of staff, during a June 7 leader professional development session on teleworking safely and securely. “There have been a lot of lessons learned over the last two years, not just for Army Materiel Command, but the Army and corporate America.”

A key part of transitioning into the new environment includes training the workforce and utilizing lessons learned from the pandemic on how to successfully lead, manage and operate in a distributed work environment. Duzzny noted that LPDs are a critical way to inform employees on workplace risks.

“Part of that transition is understanding security and cyber threats and risks,” Duzzny said. “These are things that when you’re working in a building, we’re well accustomed to, but when you’re working distributed, can become more challenging and problematic.”

The LPD was led by Brad Thomason, director of Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Integration; and a “red team” panel from threat systems management office, cyber division. For the last year, the team has led the Office 365 vulnerability assessment for DOD, which tests defenses by identifying critical vulnerabilities.

The panel shared best practices with AMC employees on how they can telework safely and securely in any work environment. According to the TSMO, the use of technology and digital tools like Microsoft Office 365 (which later became Army Teams 365) has significantly increased within the last two years, presenting challenges for some organizations.

“We are going into an age where telework is maturing, and from a safety perspective, we have to mature with it,” Thomason said. “We’ve got to understand how to live and work in this world.”

Among the recommendations, most of which applied to Microsoft Teams, included verifying members’ identities, not clicking on links or files from unknown persons, not providing personally identifiable information and protected health information, and utilizing government-furnished equipment during work hours.

Other topics the panel mentioned included email policy, maintaining secure communications in a hybrid workplace and reviewing government agency guiding documentation.