The U.S. Department of State is committed to institutionalizing a hybrid workforce, building on the lessons and flexibilities learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly believe workplace flexibilities are essential to attract and retain the talent needed to modernize American diplomacy and advance our core mission.
As we continue to see a drop in COVID-19 cases, and as we continue to transition to more onsite presence, we are developing a “Future of Work” plan. This includes institutionalizing hybrid work and workforce flexibilities, as well as plans to give Department team members the tools needed to succeed. These tools include more laptops and secure communications capabilities, and updated, shared workspace for those coming into the office.
Building a hybrid workforce is a high Department priority, which Deputy Secretary Sherman, our Under Secretaries of State, and I are overseeing directly. The plan itself is driven by a set of principles that will identify, prioritize, and shape projects, programs, resources, and policy changes needed to support a hybrid workforce. These principles will also ensure that we will be in an even stronger position to advance U.S. foreign policy, including:
- MISSION-FIRST: To maintain effectiveness as the lead U.S. foreign policy agency, we must remain mission- and outcome-focused, while we modernize American diplomacy and pursue a more flexible operating structure.
- RESPECT AND TRUST: We value everyone’s expertise and experience, and support and empower one another through accountability, collaboration, and building a culture of trust between managers and employees.
- EXCELLENCE AND EXPERTISE: We sustain and improve the Department’s expertise, adaptability, and excellence in policy and results-based service delivery as the nation’s leading foreign affairs agency.
- CONNECTEDNESS: We value collaboration, promote teamwork, and develop our team members through various tools. We engage frequently, through the appropriate channels (including in-person and virtual engagements), with State and interagency colleagues and external partners to form relationships that are crucial to mission success.
- DECISIVE LEADERSHIP: Employees at all levels make smart choices to strengthen our institution, be more agile and innovate, while appropriately managing operational risk and safeguarding sensitive national security information. We continuously learn and adapt at all levels.
- DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION and ACCESSIBILITY: We support transparent, objective, and fair workforce policies, standards, and resources that attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The entire Department leadership team is committed to making the “Future of Work” plan empowering for our domestic workforce. We want to build and develop this hybrid work culture together and continue to meet our mission while utilizing new tools that make us more flexible, innovative, and inclusive. There will be challenges along the way, but I do not for one second doubt the Department’s ability to implement this strategy.
For more on how the Department is modernizing our workforce, please read my DipNote entry here.
Visit careers.state.gov for opportunities and more information about careers with the State Department.
About the Author: Brian McKeon is the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources at the U.S. Department of State.