Telework is here to stay in the Navy, at least for now

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Natalia Murillo, a native of San Diego, participates in a video conference with Navy Public Affairs Support Element (NPASE) West during a drill weekend in May. (U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Natalia Murillo)

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The Navy is extending its remote work policy even as many across its forces get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a memo published Monday.

The Navy said sailors and other personnel will need to continue working remotely at least 50 percent of the time in accordance with “health protection level B” for vaccinated sailors and civilians.

“This update continues to build on what we have learned about combatting COVID-19 while still maximizing our operational readiness,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, the Navy’s operations chief in charge of coordinating the service’s response to COVID-19. “I expect we will continue to improve services available for our Sailors and their families while protecting the force as the number of personnel vaccinated grows. The key is for everyone that is eligible to get vaccinated.”

Health protection level B, the Navy’s highest level for vaccinated employees, is set for 2-15 new cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days.

The Air Force and Army are also both in discussions for how long they will continue teleworking, with the Army expended to update its telework guidance soon. The changes come as the larger Department of Defense works to build out its “enduring” suite of virtual work tools to support continued telework.

The DOD’s technology to support both in-person work and telework is planned to be rolled out by summer. DOD365 is a new high-security version of Microsoft’s Office suite of tools.

The current telework platform, the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment, is scheduled to sunset in June and was always designed to be temporary, even though the military’s telework policies are extending.

“Our enduring capability is going to be with us for a long time,” acting DOD Chief Information Officer John Sherman told FedScoop in March.

The DOD recently published new guidance for how leaders should evaluate their facilities’ risks to coronavirus spread. The guidance gives different levels for how many employees should work in-person based on the level of community transmission.

The Air Force does not have updated policies for how it plans to address a workforce with a growing number of vaccinated airmen and other personnel.

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Air Force, Army, Department of Navy, Future of Telework, john sherman, Navy, telework
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