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The Need for Data Driven Decision Making to Enable Transformation in this New Normal

A short note from the Dining Room Table by Colin Waitt

The majority of the Federal workforce still is grappling with a return to work as discussed in previous posts and seen in numerous government related articles and op-eds. And while some agencies are leaning forward there is still a considerable number of unknowns on the near horizon. A recent Government Executive article refers again to previous issues that have been mentioned.

“EPA is one of several agencies grappling with policies around bringing employees back to offices despite the emergence of new virus epicenters in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, and the daily record-breaking numbers of new cases confirmed. Although the review was “self-initiated,” the IG noted it was one of 24 IG offices the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Government Operations Subcommittee asked to review agencies’ return-to-office plans.

Prior hearings had noted that the administration should boost its communication with federal employees and create clearer benchmarks for when agencies should call their workers back to their duty stations in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Transparency and communication are easily assumed but if forgotten then these issues will only slow down any return to work. Unions, managers, leaders, states, municipalities, workers, families. The list goes on and forgetting to discuss – and listen – may appear to simplify actions and make it easier; but it only hinders success. The role of HR offices is to enable best practices and fair procedures. Moreover, everyone has good and different views and ideas. Some may actually move that envelope!

In these worrying times it is also important – I think to use humor as a great tool. This poster from DoI is excellent and gets the point across in a fantastic way. Kudos to DoI. More now than ever it is critical for HR offices to pause, assess and reflect on the return to work process. The future transformations that can be achieved. The fact that this is not going away – is not going to disappear – and what changes such as telework are here to stay. What will the hybrid work force look like? How will hiring – as the VA is experiencing – change.? What will all this mean to how HR supports my agency achieve its mission in the future. What was being done yesterday and what was being thought yesterday is not going to be how things will be done tomorrow. So how does HR prepare in a just and open way for the new hybrid tomorrow today while understanding that it is but a step in the transformation journey. They say that in whatever endeavor that the first step is always the hardest as there is no simple track to follow. You can be so close to things that it is hard to see the wood for the trees. Let others be your support group and at least discus “the rules”. To sustain and achieve this it has to be your journey, but you are not alone.

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