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Telework supplement continues to drive AFMC culture change

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) --

The Air Force Materiel Command has developed supplemental guidance to the Air Force telework policy as part of ongoing efforts to lead the enterprise in workplace change.

The AFMC supplement includes clarifications on remote work policies, service member guidelines, locality pay and leave guidance, civilian fitness policy and more. The supplement also includes multiple decision support tools to help guide supervisors and employees on telework-related eligibilities and administrative requirements, ensuring consistent command- wide application of the guidance.

“We want to make sure our Airmen leaders and supervisors have the tools and resources to effectively lead their teams in the ever-changing Air Force telework environment,” said Lt. Gen. Carl Schaefer, AFMC deputy commander. “We have proven that we can execute our missions effectively through telework during the COVID pandemic, and as Gen. Bunch has said countless times, we’re not going back to the way things were in the past. We’re leaning forward with our AFMC guidance as we lead the Air Force in driving workplace change for the future.”

Gen. Arnold Bunch is the AFMC commander.

In the supplement, AFMC further clarifies the difference between full-time telework and remote work, with the former pertaining to employees with a recurring onsite reporting requirement, and the latter referring to individuals who telework full-time but reside outside of the geographic area of the installation. The guidance also provides instructions for specific employee telework requests and identifies approval chains and timelines.

“The COVID pandemic necessitated a hurried transition to telework for large portions of AFMC. Since then, IT (information technology) enhancements and policy revisions have made telework a proven process providing flexibility our Airmen appreciate,” said Bill Snodgrass, AFMC Manpower, Personnel and Services director. “We want our Airmen to understand the process and approval authorities. Telework is not an automatic guarantee, and while some aspects of our mission can be accomplished away from the workplace, others require in-person work.”

The AFMC supplement also provides greater specification to the service member telework and remote work policies outlined in the Air Force policy. While remote work for service members is a rare occurrence, only those assigned to headquarters’ positions are eligible to be considered for these types of work arrangements at this time on a case-by-case basis.

“Most employees find telework provides better work-life balance; so this obviously helps from a civilian personnel recruiting and retention standpoint. At the same time, it’s important supervisors of teleworkers stay connected with their team and help reduce any feelings of being socially isolated that may come from extensive telework operations,” Snodgrass said.

Civilian fitness policy is also addressed in the AFMC supplement, with use of the entitlement dependent upon supervisor approval in consideration of mission needs.

In addition, the guidance also addresses ongoing efforts to reduce the AFMC physical footprint, eliminating exclusive workspaces onsite for full-time teleworkers or remote workers who will instead share work space and be accommodated through "hot-desking, hoteling or desk-sharing” when in the office.

“We’re continuing to look at these alternatives as we renovate and modernize our AFMC buildings and workspaces. These are cost-saving options that can accommodate staff that need to be onsite and allow us to leverage collaborative workspaces,” Schaefer said.

AFMC is currently fulfilling bargaining obligations on the Air Force Telework Policy with the American Federation of Government Employees Council 214 and other local unions throughout the command. The outcome of these negotiations may impact how telework is implemented for covered bargaining unit employees.

AFMC will continue to modify its command policies as the Air Force evolves enterprise guidance. The AFMC Supplement along with frequently asked questions, training tools, Air Force guidelines and more is available for internal audiences at https://usaf.dps.mil/teams/21918/A1K/AFMC%20Telework.The guidance can also be found at AFMC Supplement to Air Force Telework and Remote Work Policy.