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Hybrid Work Environments are now possible > Air Force Sustainment Center
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Hybrid Work Environments are now possible > Air Force Sustainment Center

Over the past two decades, 1,200 members from Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base (Georgia) have worked towards a future environment that allows them to complete the mission while maintaining safety and health guidelines within their work centers.

Thanks to the efforts of a small number of action officers from different directorates around the headquarters, the future looks bright. AFRC is returning fully to capacity through a hybrid environment. Phase four assessment and evaluation will be completed over the next twelve months.

“As we cannot anticipate when COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted and everyone will have the ability to return to full- or hybrid-work capacity, and we may never get back to 100% on-site capacity, it is our responsibility as leaders to protect our most precious resource – our people,” said Col. Bo Shelton, HQ AFRC’s future work environment champion, assigned to the Directorate of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection (A4).

“It is imperative that we are proactively protecting the health and safety of our workforce all while evolving as an enterprise – ensuring efficiencies are implemented at all levels to meet mission and readiness requirements. The pandemic gives us the opportunity to modernize our operations by facilitating and implementing change management regarding information technology, ergonomics or facility design that many of our traditional Reservists have used in civilian capacities for years.”

Shelton stated that in phase four, Shelton’s working group will evaluate and evaluate the current timelines and milestones in order to ensure that all goals are met. The team identified specific parameters to ensure that headquarters messaging, supervisory and employee responsibilities, as well as expectations, are clearly defined and clarified in order to meet performance standards.

Tools are also being created to provide a SharePoint repository that includes training tools for supervisors as well as employees, frequently asked queries and guidance. To assist during the transition, the team will also benefit from knowledge sessions from both Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services A1 and A6. There will also be rules of engagement for workplace etiquette – all to ensure AFRC is providing support to the masses during its transition.

The headquarters hybrid work environment is at the directorate level. Supervisors and employees work together using a combination of off-site and on-site work to fulfill mission requirements of the organization.

A recent survey conducted by Director of Staff found that 76% agreed that a hybrid environment was beneficial for their directorate. Only 15% of respondents strongly disagreed with the idea of a hybrid environment being beneficial.

“The survey was instrumental in shedding light on what members of the staff were thinking about the hybrid work environment,” said Lt. Col. Dustin Pawlak, AFRC’s former future work environment champion and chief of the director’s action group in A1. “Through employee and supervisor communications, our goal is to make sure everyone understands a hybrid work environment is here to stay and how it’s beneficial to all.”

Over the next 12 mois, the cross-functional team will continue supporting supervisors, employees, and offer supervisory tips, guide on how to use Specific (Measurable), Achievable and Relevant (SMART) objectives, and provide collaboration platform training using MS Teams, OneDrive, and Jabber.

As part of phases 2 and 3 of AFRC’s consolidated campus construction, there will be collaboration spaces built for internal directorate level small teams or cross directorate functional teams to come together to work on projects outside the work center. The directorates in Building 555 have already transformed conference and meeting rooms into a shared collaboration space equipped with dry-boards, Desktop Anywhere, and conference lines.

“The future work environment team has accomplished so many milestones and initiatives since its genesis, it’s impossible to list them all,” Pawlak said. “The improvements we made within our building definitely top the list. Our conference rooms now have Teams, Zoom, and Jabber. Building 555 also has commercial cable that allows Wi-Fi access, which will facilitate collaboration for our employees.

“Additionally, the Manpower, Personnel and Services Directorate participated in a proof of concept, which allowed the future work environment team to gather vital data and actually see applications in action,” said Pawlak. “We have grown leaps and bounds across the headquarters to support warfighters at the unit level from where we were two years ago when COVID made the majority of us work from home.”

Pawlak stated that his two years as the team’s leader have been very rewarding.

“If I learned anything it’s that our leaders at the headquarters genuinely care about the people in the command and dedicate their time night and day to find ways to keep us informed and united,” he said.

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