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REMOTE, NOT DISTANT: John Willison, DEVCOM deputy to the commanding general, participated in the “Managing a Remote Workforce” panel on May 25 during the Association for Talent Development government workforce conference. He spoke about how federal agencies responded to an immediate shift to remote work at the start of the pandemic, understanding the needs of a remote workforce, leading by example, and where federal agencies go from here. (Photo by DEVCOM)



By Ellen Summey


The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) is one of the first DOD organizations to release an official plan for its workforce regarding the future of work. DEVCOM’s “Future of Work Concept” outlines the organization’s framework for allowing work flexibility across its workforce of approximately 25,000 civilians, Soldiers and contractors. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of U.S. Army Futures Command.

“We want to provide the flexibility to our workforce to work where and when they’re most productive,” said John Willison, DEVCOM’s deputy to the commanding general. He said DEVCOM’s focus is on taking care of its existing workforce and creating the conditions to recruit and retain the workforce of tomorrow. “While we are a research and engineering center, in the end, it really is a people business, and so we’ve been mindful about making sure we’re doing everything we can to attract the talent that we need and retain the talent that we have.”

“We know people are most productive when they’re happy with their life, and for a lot of people that’s location based, that’s family based,”  Willison said. The goal is to be disciplined in the implementation of this workplace transformation, but not prescriptive, he said. “We want to make sure we’re providing our employees the flexibility they want and they deserve to be the most productive. That’s really the determination by managers and leaders with the input from the employees.”

Willison said that DEVCOM leaders collaborated with their Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard counterparts when developing this plan, as well as with partners in industry and academia. He hopes the plan can serve as an example for other military components or federal agencies, as more organizations begin planning for an increasingly flexible workplace. “We believe that we can be a model,” he said. “In doing the research that we do, we want the best ideas for wherever they are. And so we’re excited about and counting on the fact that this extends to other people because, by doing that, we hope to not be defined by our physical space, but by our ability to reach people no matter where they are. We’ve seen a lot of excitement and a lot of interest from our own workforce, thinking about their own ability to get involved in projects that aren’t limited to a geographical location.”



For more information about DEVCOM’s future of work concept, go to:

This sidebar was originally published with the article FUTURE of WORK—PRESENT TENSE


Read the full article in the Spring 2023 issue of Army AL&T magazine. 
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