AIR FORCE FULLY EMBRACING TELEWORK FOR THE FUTURE
“We’re not going back,” said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson recently to an industry and government audience in discussing his branch’s post-COVID telework plans. The Air Force is fully adopting telework and is integrating it into its long-term operating plans, seeing it as a way to save money for the service and increase productivity. Other agencies, military or civilian, may well follow suit. Productivity has increased in many agencies, as has worker satisfaction. The announcement is a signal to government contractors that the manner in which they did federal business up until March may permanently change. In the meantime, contractors, too, have likely seen similar changes in their own workforces. Being able to interact with customers remotely and develop key relationships may pose challenges, but if both customers and employees are demanding increased telework, companies will have to adapt. Both virtual and smaller in person one-on-one meetings that take place near a federal office, but not in it, are likely components of a new protocol. Of course, not all Air Force or federal missions will change to telework. “I have not been able to get anyone to explain to me how I fix a B-52 engine through telework,” said General Arnold Bunch, leader of Air Force Materiel Command. Both contractors and their federal customers will likely take time to adjust to previously unprecedented levels of remote working as they pursue business, fulfill missions, and sustain a trained, capable personnel base.