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The Future of Work Is Flexible

Even for national security workers, remote work options will be more prevalent in the post-COVID era.

Federal employees and national security workers are returning to the office with the delta variant fast on their heels. When it comes to managers and workers who hold security clearances, the good news is many employers appear to be prepared for the new normal in the workplace. A March 2021 ClearanceJobs survey of defense industry professionals showed 82% of employers plan to continue offering remote work post COVID-19. That’s a significant figure, considering all employers who participated in the survey are in the security-cleared space.

“The reality is not all national security work can be done from home,” said Evan Lesser, founder and president of ClearanceJobs.com. “But what COVID demonstrated was even national security workers have some percentage of work that is unclassified or can be done remotely. Hybrid work options are key for balancing employee safety and retention with the need to get classified missions accomplished.”

Remote work will still be determined by the position, company and government requirements. The clear takeaway is that remote work is no longer a benefit—it's an expectation. For employers, 52% said they expected to offer more remote roles post-COVID, and 38% said “maybe.” For those on the fence about whether or not they would offer more remote work, they said it would largely be dictated by government contracting requirements. Government hiring managers, however, are reiterating that they expect the future, even within the intelligence community, to offer more hybrid options.

"This change of philosophy is giving agencies not only more flexibility but also enticing workers who are searching for flexibility in their own life," said Amanda Huffman, an Air Force veteran and military writer.

Employee Expectations vs. Reality

In a separate survey of professionals with federal security clearances, employees reported they would prefer to spend 50% of their time working remotely. The same respondents said they expect their employer to offer them 37% remote work. The expectation vs. reality gap is to be expected. The good news is that with the majority of employers offering remote work options—and the conversations about the future of the hybrid remote workplace are only beginning—national security workers, even those in the classified workspace, can expect more flexibility post-COVID.

“The reality in national security is that 100 percent remote work is rarely an option when classified information is at play,” said Jillian Hamilton, editor of ClearanceJobs.com. “Instead, agencies and organizations are becoming better at offering a hybrid approach for their workforce – both for federal employees and contractors.”

Read more in Remote vs. Return to the Office: The Future is Flexible.