The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant workplace disruptions across the IC. It was no surprise, then, that attendees from government organizations (including the CDC, FBI, DHS, and NGA) to major private sector companies to smaller industry members tuned in to INSA’s June 16 "Workplace Safety in the IC: Navigating the New Normal" panel discussion to learn how some of the community’s top organizations are preparing their workforces to return to the office. Randy Fofi of NGA, John McDermott, from State Department’s INR, Jeanine Callahan of Plus3 IT Systems, and Rich Lambert of Northrop Grumman shared their strategies and lessons learned as well as took questions from the audience regarding ways organizations of all sizes can plan to return to the workplace safely.
Each of the represented organizations have entered into Phase I with around a quarter of their employees working in-person. As such, certain protocols are already in place to monitor personnel’s health. These include physical solutions, such as arrows on the ground in large buildings, like NGA’s, providing face coverings and sanitizers, publishing cleaning schedules, offering flexible schedules, and rearranging the workspace to allow for proper distancing. Work-related travel is a challenge because it increases safety concerns, but organizations, like the State Department, are figuring out ways to best protect their employees whose travel remains critical to the mission. Additionally, visitors to the workplace will now have to undergo safety and health procedures to ensure that an organization’s personnel are not exposed to COVID-19.
Watch the Program Recording
Organizations have also been addressing employee stresses and anxieties. Panelists offered up some of the approaches that have been working so far: holding town halls to address employee concerns (child and dependent care, transportation options, etc.); establishing employee resources for adjusting to the "new normal" (Northrop Grumman set up a resource group focused on how to telework more effectively as to avoid over-working); and taking advantage of new technologies (Plus3 IT Systems provided a video tour of their new office set-up to ease the shock factor when employees returned to the space and has set up virtual social channels for their employees to stay connected).
Communication from key leadership is more important now than ever. Organizational leaders must take personnel concerns seriously and understand that each employee has different concerns depending on personal circumstances.