As we continue social distancing due to COVID-19, I want to thank you all for your continued dedication to the Department’s mission. Your health and safety is our top priority. The past couple of weeks have been unique, to say the least, and have challenged each of us to adapt to a new work environment. I am extremely proud of how this Department quickly and safely moved to a maximum telework posture. The fact that you did this while maintaining nearly the full range of DOE mission and mission support work is truly extraordinary.
While most of us are practicing social distancing, there are still many within the Department who are reporting to work daily. Much of this work involves extended hours away from family while the majority of the country stays home. For example, Power Marketing Administration (PMA) employees continue to perform mission essential functions in our electric system operations control centers. The high-voltage linemen, electricians, communications technicians, engineers, dispatchers, and information technology personnel’s dedicated and focused efforts ensure the reliability of the bulk electric system. Your efforts are providing power to millions of Americans’ homes, hospitals, and businesses that desperately need this stability during this time of uncertainty. To all of DOE’s mission critical personnel, including our protective force, first responders, cyber security, counter-terrorism/counter-intelligence and emergency operations personnel, I could go on and on…I send my heartfelt thanks.
As we see the world we knew only two weeks ago change before our eyes, it now requires us to isolate ourselves to a much larger degree than usual. This isolation can make it easier to become emotionally distressed. I encourage all of our supervisors and managers to come up with creative and innovative ways to keep people connected and engaged with one another.
Our teleworking workforce is sharing some of their ideas on how to stay centered and positive while working from home. Here are a few:
- Keep structure in your day through a daily schedule;
- Take a break each hour, stretch, breathe deeply and then refocus on the task at hand;
- Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch;
- Take a run or walk outside and enjoy nature;
- Stay connected with your coworkers – give them a call to check-in, use webcams to see each other;
- Stay in contact with friends and neighbors. Turning "social distancing" into "distant socializing" assists with your mental health, as well as theirs;
- Show acts of kindness to those who may need assistance. Offer to pick up groceries, mow their lawn or check-in daily to see if they are in need of anything.
Additionally, discussing your concerns with a trained Employee Assistance Program counselor may assist in relieving loneliness, fear, and stress. Federal employees at DOE Headquarters can contact the Department’s EAP Specialist at (202) 586-4995. Federal employees outside the DC area may contact Espȳrat (877) 801-5752 to speak to a counselor. All DOE employees may access the Espȳr website for COVID-19 pandemic resources on telework, coping, parenting supports, older adult and caregiver support, and more.
Thank you for all you are doing for our nation during these trying times; your resiliency is inspiring. We will get through this together. Be well and stay safe.
Secretary of Energy