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Taking the Oath of Office from Home Is the New Normal

Every federal employee has the same first official act: with a hand over heart and eyes on the American flag, they take the oath of office. When 80 percent of the Pentagon's workforce were mandated to work from home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS) Personnel Services Division (PSD), as well as most of the federal government was not prepared to onboard new employees remotely.

In March 2020, Kristi Crear, DDS Human Resource People Operations Lead, partnered with PSD to make the onboarding process virtual. According to Crear, “The idea was that with the right tools and virtual capabilities, new hires to the Department of Defense (DoD) would still be able to participate in the momentous first act of the oath while remote, and complete their mission operations during the pandemic."

Due to outdated restrictions, PSD didn’t have computers with working cameras or microphones, a necessity in the new normal of work in 2020. After procuring special policy guidance from DDS partners in the Office of Personnel Management, Crear was able to train PSD on how to "digitize" the onboarding process with modern PCs and software licenses for digital tools, such as Slack.

Katie Olson, DDS Deputy Director, sees a silver lining in all of this. "What's cool about this moment is that the government is catching up to the seamless digital environment that exists in the private sector."

Once the Division's human resources specialists were trained on the new tools, remote onboarding within the Pentagon became a smooth and continuous process.

To date, DDS has helped the PSD virtually onboard approximately 1,000 DoD employees, including 38 new DDS employees. According to Crear, “This has been a great partnership that has helped propel our partners toward the future of work because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 73 percent of teams are projected to have remote employees by 2028."

While DDS has successfully remotely onboarded dozens of new employees to our own team since March 2020, we are not done yet! We’re constantly on the lookout for new talent. If you are a data scientist, software engineer, product manager, or UX/UI designer, reach out! You can join our SWAT team of nerds and help us defend the nation one well-designed product at a time.