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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 1, 2022

New: Coast Guard allows remote work

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Writer

Some military and civilian members may now work remotely.

The Coast Guard’s new remote work policy gives employees more career flexibility. The service hopes the benefit will help retain and recruit high performers. 

The service has also updated telework options for civilians and military members. 

Both the new remote work policy and updated telework policy are part of the commandant’s plan to build a workforce ready for the future. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Coast Guard employees demonstrated that working virtually didn’t impact mission success. The experience helped the service feel comfortable making the option of remote work available permanently.  

“This kind of flexibility has become standard at top employers,” said Jennifer Leung, chief of the Office of Civilian Workforce Management at the Coast Guard. “We want to compete for the best, and people now expect employers to offer remote work options.”

Adm. Linda Fagan directed service leaders to be innovative, agile, and forward-looking as we transform the entire workforce. Her message is that “Tomorrow looks different. So will we.” She’s leading a comprehensive assessment of where we are now, where we need to be, and our options for getting there, with a focus on creative and innovative ideas. 

“We are proud to offer a policy that can benefit our total workforce,” said Rear Adm. Brian Penoyer, Assistant Commandant for Human Resources. “Remote work will undoubtedly be a great tool for the Coast Guard to fill jobs and retain talent that we may not be able to otherwise. This new policy will help us keep getting the job done.”

Penoyer noted that remote work is just one of many recent changes designed to improve employees’ work experience:

Enlisted members can opt-out of advancement without penalty

“We are seeking nothing less than full-scale transformation,” Penoyer said. “We need the tools to assure our total force – military, civilians, and families – can meet the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly changing world.” 

What is remote work?
The new remote work policy will effectively eliminate in-office workdays for eligible civilian employees. Military members working remotely must still comply with any administrative requirements requiring an in-office presence such as drug testing, body composition screening, etc. 

Employees and members are reminded that both remote and telework options are a benefit, not an entitlement. This means that before approving your remote work request, your supervisor will consider factors such as your performance, your suitability for remote work, the nature of the work you do, along with organizational goals, missions, and needs.

Employees and members will be able to work remotely - either short-term or permanently - provided:

  • The job can be done off-site,
  • Their supervisor approves, and
  • It doesn’t impact the Coast Guard in terms of cost or mission readiness. 

If approved, you could work from your home, whether it is within or outside of the commuting area of your Coast Guard work location. You could also work from the Coast Guard office most convenient for you. 

As a remote worker, your pay rate will be based on your remote work location. 

Am I eligible?
Not all jobs lend themselves to remote work. If you work with classified information, perform law enforcement duties, conduct search and rescue missions, or work in the trades, you’ll probably keep working on site. Same if it would cost the Coast Guard money to let you work off-site. 

If you’re interested in working remotely, the first step is to talk with your supervisor. (Remember that even if you aren’t eligible for remote work, you can still request telework.) All requests for remote work must be accomplished by completing a Remote Work Agreement and associated documentation.

If you’re a civilian employee, you must:

  • Attain at least a “Meets” or “Achieved Expectations” rating for your current and previous year’s performance appraisals and meets other eligibility criteria as listed in the Instruction.
  • Get your supervisor’s approval. Your supervisor will consider your role’s suitability for remote work, as well as organizational goals, missions, and needs. 
  • Successfully complete telework training.
  • Follow the new policy’s guidelines on attire, maintaining an appropriate office environment, conducting meetings, and notifying your boss when you’ll be away from the computer.
  • For bargaining unit employees, refer to any applicable negotiated agreements for additional requirements.

If you’re a military member, you must: 

  • Have earned no marks below a four (4) or an unsatisfactory conduct mark in the last three years.
  • Complete a remote work checklist. 
  • Obtain approval from the first Flag Officer or Senior Executive Service (SES) member in your chain of command 
  • Successfully complete telework training.
  • Follow the new policy’s guidelines on attire, maintaining an appropriate office environment, conducting meetings, and notifying your boss when you’ll be away from the computer.

If I’m a supervisor, what do I need to know?
The service will also be providing information sessions, job aids and other tools to help supervisors successfully implement the new policy.  For supervisors of bargaining unit employees, you must also refer to any applicable negotiated agreements for additional requirements. 

“Remote work is definitely a culture change for the Coast Guard,” Penoyer said. “But our workforce proved without a doubt that flexible workplaces can contribute to mission success. This is a change we must make to continue supporting our employees, our service, and the communities we serve.”

As you consider an employee’s request, you’re encouraged to view remote work as a recruiting tool - not just for your unit, but for the Coast Guard as a whole. Remote work is also a great way to help retain a valued employee who prefers to work remotely. While remote work is a human capital tool that can serve to promote effective mission delivery and help attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce; it is not an employee right or entitlement.

Workplace flexibilities such as remote work and telework also help the federal government’s efforts to mitigate climate change by “limiting federal employees’ commute and reducing commuting-based carbon emissions,” according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s 2021 Climate Action Plan. Building workplace flexibilities also helps agencies continue operations “even during acute weather events or other future disruptions that prevent access to the worksite,” OPM wrote.