The U.S. Air Force is considering keeping in-person staffing at the Pentagon at just 50 percent even after the pandemic subsides, while the Navy issued policy Monday that keeps its occupancy at half for now, according to U.S. officials and documents reviewed by Defense One.
In a March memo describing the staffing changes, Air Force officials enshrined the notion of working remotely post-COVID, and outlined ways to reconfigure office space to put more distance between employees who must show up in person.
“Where the opportunity exists, you may consider placing a portion of your workforce on a more permanent telework schedule, and reconfiguring your office space into general use hotel suites that telework personnel can use when they need to come into the workplace,” said the Air Force memo, which was obtained by Defense One.
In addition, the Navy on Monday issued fleet-wide guidance that suggests occupancy rates will likely not rise above 50 percent in any of its shore facilities.
No Navy facility will permit occupancy to rise above half capacity until COVID-19 infection rates in the surrounding area report fewer than two new cases per 100,000 population for seven days in a row, said the guidance. Defense One obtained a copy.
The Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building by square footage. Before the pandemic, about 23,000 people came to the building each day for work. But in March 2020, tens of thousands of those workers were sent home to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.