The challenges of working in a virtual environment include a lack of training on the use of some virtual tools, need for leadership training in how to manage a remote staff and potential feelings of isolation, just to name a few. We can overcome these challenges with the right training and continuous wingman support.
The Office of Personnel Management posts telework training materials for both employees and managers at www.telework.gov/training-resources/telework-training.
Telework benefits include personnel flexibility, job satisfaction and the smaller physical footprint base civil engineers must maintain. Although communication can be either a challenge or benefit, I have found it’s easier than ever in a virtual environment, and my team meets more now than we were able to as an in-person staff.
Since Health Protection Condition Bravo was recently declared, with hopes of HPCON Alpha soon, I am reminding leadership across the installation that telework is a strategic tool on our toolbelt to move the Air Force mission into the future. Brick-and-mortar modes of operation are not necessary anymore, in many instances. In fact, WPAFB will have the same administrative-facility deficit it had before the pandemic without any agile means to address it.
Pivoting from an in-person to virtual management style is a cultural and organizational change. Senior leadership support is essential for it to be successful.
Building trust, developing self-leaders and embracing the Air Force’s core values of “integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do” are actions we can take to make the change easier.