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Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies (2023)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Survey Results

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27235.
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19   Survey Results Introduction Each section of this chapter presents results from the two surveys administered during this project. First, responses from 151 airport managers or HR managers are presented. These responses provide the employer perspective. Second, responses from 76 airport employees are presented. These responses present the employee perspective. At times, these two perspectives are similar; at other times, these perspectives are quite different. Responses are presented in graphical format, along with narrative interpretation of the results. It should be noted that, in general, not all participants answered each question; thus, percentages are based on the actual number of responses to each question, which may or may not match the total number of survey participants. Airport Manager/HR Manager Survey Participating Airports The majority of participating airports (54.79%, n = 80) are not Part 139-certificated. Even so, 45.21% (n = 66) of participating airports are Part 139-certificated. Although the study gathered data from airports representing all FAA NPIAS categories, the majority of participating air- ports (53.38%, n = 79) are GA. This coincides with the fact that most of the participating airports are not Part 139-certificated. Non-hub airports are also well-represented at 13.51% (n = 20). The remaining NPIAS categories were similarly represented: large hub (7.43%, n = 11), medium hub (5.41%, n = 8), small hub (7.43%, n = 11), non-primary (6.08%, n = 9), and reliever (6.76%, n = 10). The study also had wide geographic reach, with eight of nine FAA regions represented. There were no responses from the Alaskan region. The Southwest region was most represented, with 44.97% (n = 67) of participants. The Southern region was second highest with 16.78% (n = 25) of participants. Other regions include the Central (8.72%, n = 13), Eastern (10.07%, n = 15), Great Lakes (3.36%, n = 5), New England (0.67%, n = 1), Northwest Mountain (12.75%, n = 19), and Western Pacific (2.68%, n = 4). The Southwest region and Southern region are most represented with 61.75% of participating airports. These regions are similar and different in numerous ways, including climate, topography, wildlife challenges, and remote work considerations. Remote Work To initially determine the degree to which airports provided for remote work, participants were asked, “At any time during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020–March 2022) did C H A P T E R 4

20 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies your airport allow (or require) any airport employees to work remotely for any period of time?” Just under half of participating airports (46.67%, n = 70) provided for remote work during the pandemic. Interestingly, more than half of participating airports (53.33%, n = 80) did not allow for any employee groups to work remotely during the pandemic (see Figure 3). Remote work options tend to be more common at larger airports with more staff (see Figure 4). Generally, as the size of airport staff decreases, the opportunity for flexible working arrangements also decreases. 20.00 77.22 11.11 55.00 36.36 80.00 22.78 88.89 45.00 63.64 100.00 100.00 Reliever GA Non-primary Non-hub Small hub Medium hub Large hub Percent Hu b Si ze Yes No 0.00 20.00 40.00 60.00 80.00 100.00 46.67 53.33 oNseY 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 3. At any time during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020–March 2022) did your airport allow (or require) any airport employees to work remotely for any period of time? Figure 4. At any time during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020– March 2022) did your airport allow (or require) any airport employees to work remotely for any period of time?

Survey Results 21   Those airports that did not allow for any employees to work remotely during the pandemic explained their rationale. Themes included: • Very few employees • Work could not be performed from home • All employees are considered essential • Employees chose to work on-site Some airports instituted split shifts to rotate employees and minimize the number of staff in the office at any one time. As one participant explained: “Small staff of 1-5 employees. Instituted an every other day work schedule to split staff up. This ensured qualified people were available at all times for coverage. If one person got sick then the whole staff was not affected.” As another participant explained, “With little to no traffic during COVID, the airport decided to rotate office staff. Our front desk person worked three days per week and the office manager worked two days per week. We paid them for 40 hours, but it was important to us to minimize possible contamination of both office staff at the same time. This schedule allowed for the office staff to not be here at the same time during COVID.” Of those 70 participating airports that did provide remote work arrangements, the survey queried participants as to which departments these remote employees were assigned. Participants were allowed to select more than one department. Finance was the most common department (66.67%, n = 36) with remote employees. Properties/Contracts/Commercial Development was the second most common department (48.15%, n = 26) with remote employees. Other departments selected by at least one-third of participating airports include Procurement, Public Relations, Planning and Design, Marketing, and Information Technology. The “Other” category was selected by 44.44% (n = 24) of participants, although most of these responses were Administration, which may have included HR, for example (see Figure 5). Those participating airports with remote employees were also asked, “How did you choose the employee groups eligible for remote work?” Most responses indicate that “non-essential” 12.96 0.00 12.96 20.37 66.67 3.70 22.22 29.63 33.33 5.56 37.04 37.04 40.74 0.00 35.19 48.15 11.11 44.44 Airfield Operations ARFF Concessions Environmental/Noise Finance Ground Transportation Guest/Customer Service Governmental/Legal Information Technology Maintenance Marketing Planning and Design Public Relations Police/Public Safety Procurement Properties/Contracts/Commercial Development Terminal Operations Other (please specify) De pa rt m en ts Percent 0.00 25.00 50.00 75.00 100.00 Figure 5. Which employee groups were required to work remotely at any time during the pandemic?

22 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies employees who could perform tasks away from the airport were likely to be eligible for remote work. The following selected responses from airport managers give a sense of how they chose which groups of employees would be eligible for remote work: • “It was simple. Can your work be done from a computer at home?” • “The decision was based on the operational need to be physically located at the airport. Those employees who complete the majority of work by computer or phone were eligible for remote work.” • “Employees were eligible for remote work based upon their technical capabilities to work remotely. The employees were largely administrative functions.” • “If it was possible for them to do the work remotely, we were agreeable. Most jobs – custodians, parking lot attendants, maintenance personnel, and public safety could not, but most admin- istration staff could.” • “Employees in jobs that cannot be performed remotely (maintenance, operations) were generally not eligible for remote work. All other jobs were allowed to perform work remotely at times.” • “Individuals that had childcare problems relating to school closures and those living with people in high-risk health groups.” It seems therefore, that among airports allowing remote work, only employees with job functions that could be performed off-site were eligible for remote work. In a follow-up to the previous question, participants were asked, “Which employee groups did your airport consider essential, and thus in-eligible for remote work?” In other words, which employee groups were required to work in-person and on-site? The five most common departments are Airfield Operations (88.68%, n = 47), Maintenance (83.02%, n = 44), Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) (67.92%, n = 36), Terminal Operations (52.83%, n = 28), and Police/Public Safety (50.94%, n = 27) (see Figure 6). This is expected, as employees in each of these depart- ments are generally required to perform their job functions at the airport. In other words, it is impossible to perform an airfield inspection or respond to an aircraft emergency from home. 88.68 67.92 13.21 3.77 3.77 28.30 16.98 3.77 13.21 83.02 0.00 1.89 3.77 50.94 1.89 3.77 52.83 15.09 Airfield Operations ARFF Concessions Environmental/Noise Finance Ground Transportation Guest/Customer Service Governmental/Legal Information Technology Maintenance Marketing Planning and Design Public Relations Police/Public Safety Procurement Properties/Contracts/Commercial Development Terminal Operations Other (please specify) 0.00 25.00 50.00 75.00 100.00 De pa rt m en t Percent Figure 6. Which employee groups did your airport consider essential, and thus in-eligible for remote work?

Survey Results 23   For those participating airports allowing remote work, participants were queried about the technology tools that enabled remote work. Although there was wide variation in specific tools and platforms in use, common themes emerged (see Figure 7). Airports with successful remote work arrangements provided needed technology tools to employees. Some participating airports utilized expensive cloud-based products, while others utilized more affordable or free platforms. IT infrastructure upgrades were also beneficial. To determine how newly hired employees were accommodated via remote work arrangements, participating airports were asked, “What considerations are there for new employees regarding possible remote work arrangements?” One common theme was that no additional consider- ations were afforded newly hired employees in this regard. That being said, some participating airports were quite innovative in their approach. Some participating airports have ceased all remote work arrangements as the pandemic ended. As one participant shared, “Remote work is not standard and is no longer allowed. Employees can request ADA alternate work arrangements but that typically involves workplace modifications, not locations.” That being said, some airports are recognizing remote work as a legitimate ADA accommodation. Some airports are also considering how remote work arrangements may be considered in the future and are developing remote work policies as a result. Hybrid arrangements were common among those continuing to offer remote work. As one participant shared, “Since COVID and prompted by the competitive employment environment and gas prices, we instituted a permanent limited remote work policy allowing certain regular employees to work up to 2 days per week remotely while managers and directors can do so no more than 1 day per week.” Another participant shared, “We currently have returned to a hybrid schedule. Those that can work from home are able to do so on M and F. They must be in the office T, W and Th. Some departments are already deviating from that schedule. Some people are back full time, others are staying at home up to four days. New hires are working up to five days a week depending on training needs.” Another participant shared, “Managers designate prior to hiring whether the position can work remotely. We have policies and procedures in place for remote work arrangements, how to manage in a remote environment, and how often. We also have hybrid work arrangements – employees work part time in the office and part time remotely (primarily those in office environments).” Some airports are considering how such a policy can assist with HR challenges, including employee attraction and retention. As one participant shared, “Our airport authority ended all remote work June 2021; we are revisiting it to enhance employee attraction and retention and have drafted a remote work policy that we expect to implement in the next couple of months.” What technology tools enabled employees to perform their jobs in a remote manner? “Employees who worked from home were provided with laptops, additional computer monitors, and in some instances cellular devices. In addition, employees were provided with access to VPN into the Airport’s shared computer drives and other software.” “The airport network servers had previously been upgraded to allow for remote connections while staff travels or is otherwise off site.” “Employees were issued laptops, iPads, chromebooks, computer screens, connection cables to their TV, wireless keyboards, scanners/ printers . . .” What considerations are there for new employees regarding possible remote work arrangements? “For new employees, considerations regarding remote work arrangements are given in providing equipment while also ensuring they are in compliance and receive onsite training and work requirements.” “We offer a flexible work arrangement to all staff. They can share how and when they’d like to work and if it can be done, we do it.” “Usually have a mandatory on boarding period (e.g., 3 months) where one must be in the office, then can be considered to telework.” Figure 7. What technology tools enabled employees to perform their jobs in a remote manner?

24 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies To gauge the structures put in place to manage remote work, participating airports were asked, “What are some methods your airport used to manage employees working remotely?” The goal was to understand how remote employee oversight was accomplished to ensure productivity in the remote environment. Basic methods such as virtual meetings, email, phone check-ins, etc., were used by many airports. Use of collaborative platforms also supported the management of remote employees. As one participant shared, “Office 365 allows for collaboration in a team environment. Daily meetings of the entire remote staff with those on site. Other meetings as needed to link staff on specific projects.” One participating manager simply kept a chat window open during business hours and would converse with remote employees throughout the day. One participating airport required remote employees to come into the office once weekly to check-in and pick up work assignments. Another airport utilized various metrics to track employee productivity. As this participant shared, “Daily check in with supervisor; our work group developed a daily staffing report which identified staff attendance, as well as who was on site and who was teleworking. This helped us track when call off rates were escalating and continuity of operations planning needed to be implemented to meet staffing requirements.” Another participating airport required detailed work logs that could be audited. As this partici- pant shared, “Employees were required to document daily work (by hour) and submit weekly to supervisor. These were tabulated and held by Finance for payroll and audit purposes.” One participating airport that adopted a hybrid work arrangement used performance stan- dards to determine if employees would be allowed to remain in a hybrid arrangement. As this participant shared, “Aviation Department’s management meetings occur on Wednesdays, so we have all personnel working in person on that day. The other weekdays, remote work employees rotate. Typically, all remote work employees have 2 days in office and 3 days working remotely. This proves to be a big incentive–if the tasks gets done, remote work can continue. If things start to slip, in-person work might return.” Another participant explains quite simply, “If you hire the right employees, trust your employees to do their work well, and base their work on results and not time in a chair, everyone wins.” Participating airport/HR managers were also asked, “What percentage of your airport employees would like to continue working remotely?” On average, 27% of airport employees would like to continue working remotely, according to participating airport/HR managers, with responses ranging from a low of 0% and a high of 100%. Clearly, there is wide variation among airports and likely, specific employee groups. To gauge the degree that hiring practices may have changed at airports since the pandemic, participating airports were asked, “How have your hiring practices changed since, and as a result of, the COVID-19 pandemic?” This open-ended question was answered by participants in a varied manner. At many participating airports, nothing has changed. The most common theme was airports conducting virtual interviews. At some airports, a remote work policy has been developed. At others, drastic changes have taken place. Another airport has completed a thorough review of all job descriptions, eliminating some job requirements to recruit from a larger applicant pool. As this participant shared, “We’ve reevaluated a lot of the job descriptions and removed anything that wasn’t truly required and had likely been rolled over year after year (Degrees, driver’s license, certifications . . .) in hopes of having a bigger pool to choose from.” Numerous airports mentioned how challenging it has been to fill vacant positions with qualified candidates. As one participant shared, “Our requirements for education and experience have been lowered, our wages are increasing and we are trying to be as flexible as possible about shifts and wfh [work from home].” Another participant shared, “To hire quality workers in such a competitive market, flexibility is necessary.” Another participant shared, “We haven’t changed our hiring yet, and it shows, we are getting 10% of the applications we used to get for Airport What are some methods your airport used to manage employees working remotely? “We use Google Meets and Hangout. I am sure there are other tools departments are using. I keep a Hangout chat open with each of my staff and a group chat. This way I can see when they are away from their desk or I can ask them an individual question. I also liked to have a Google Chat to see each other face to face rather than just a phone call. I am not sure what worked for all others.” How have your hiring practices changed since, and as a result of, the COVID-19 pandemic? “Many of our hiring practices have gone virtual due to the pandemic. For example (interviewing).” “Many of our tools for hiring are now digital, including remote interviews. This allows us to recruit and hire more quickly if the hiring team is not all on site at the same time.”

Survey Results 25   Operations positions. When I’ve contacted universities, I’ve been told that new graduates want jobs where they can work from home.” To further explore the role COVID-19 has had on the airport HR function, participating airport/HR managers were asked, “How has your overall HR function changed since, and as a result of, the COVID-19 pandemic?” A number of participating airport/HR managers mentioned COVID-19 cleaning protocols, COVID-19 vaccine requirements, and expedited/ virtual interviewing/hiring practices. As one participant shared, “Interviews have been conducted remotely. Hiring decisions have been accelerated in an effort not to lose good candidates to competing opportunities.” One participant summed up these changes by sharing, “The economic impacts of the pandemic on budgeting, recruitment and retention have impacted human capital significantly and will have a lasting effect. HR is recruiting for many more positions and the pool of applicants is shallow which creates greater demand on training resources, some of have had limited avail- ability until recently.” One participating airport manager expressed frustration with their airport HR department, by sharing, “From the HR customer perspective, they have not adapted fast enough nor inno- vatively enough to meet the changing conditions of job/hiring market, responding with policies and procedures to support the field in a timely manner, etc.” Yet another participating airport manager expressed satisfaction with their airport HR department by sharing, “HR was great providing the information regarding public health orders and being creative with work schedules and identifying challenges of remote work at the onset.” These two contrasting views are evidence of the wide variation of perspectives on this issue among airports. To discern whether some age groups (or generations) were more successful with remote work, participants were asked, “During your experience with remote work, did you notice one gen- eration of employees were more efficient/productive when working remotely? (If so, which?)” (see Figure 8). The results indicate that, overall, there is no difference among workers of different generations in their success as remote employees. Indeed, 81.13% (n = 43) of participants indicate How has your overall HR function changed since, and as a result of, the COVID-19 pandemic? “The great resignation has impacted our organization, hiring, attrition—all has increased. HR burnout is high. How we communicate with our employees has changed. How we provide training has changed (learning opportunities are hybrid or remote). This is in addition to most HR jobs being primarily remote now - almost 100% of the HR staff works remotely part or full time. Customer service to the organization is impacted. More reliance on data. At the same time, some learning opportunities and organization-wide meetings have more attendees by of- fering virtual options.” 81.13 15.09 1.89 7.55 0.00 No/None 57–75 years of age 41–56 years of age 26–40 years of age 25 years of age and younger 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Age range Pe rc en t Figure 8. During your experience with remote work, did you notice one generation of employees were more efficient/productive when working remotely? (If so, which?)

26 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies there was no difference. Among those few airport/HR managers indicating there was a difference, employees aged 26 to 40 years old seem to have greater success in the remote work environment. This is possibly due to this generation being considered “digital natives,” making for an easy transition to a more technologically rich work environment. To determine how airport/HR managers feel about the future of remote work, now that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, participants were asked, “Do you feel a remote work model is sustainable for your airport, even years into the future?” (see Figure 9). The responses to this question were almost evenly split. Although a slim majority (51.92%, n = 27) do not feel remote work is sustainable for the long-term, 48.08% (n = 25) do feel it is sustainable. To follow-up on the previous question, participants were asked, “Does your airport have a long-term plan for remote work?” (see Figure 10). The vast majority of participating airports (80.77%, n = 42) do not have a long-term plan for remote work. Although 48.08% (n = 25) of participating airport/HR managers believe that remote work is sustainable for the long term, a much smaller percentage, 19.23%, (n = 10) actually have a long-term plan for remote work. Thus, not all airports that believe in the long-term viability of remote work actually plan to participate in this trend. Airports were also forced to consider training for employees in innovative ways, especially in states with more restrictive stay-at-home orders. Participants were asked, “Were employees trained (either initially or recurrently) via either fully online asynchronous or hybrid/blended approach at any time during the March 2020–March 2022 time period?” The majority of participating air- ports (65.35%, n = 83) did not conduct employee training in a fully online or blended approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 34.65% (n = 44) airports did (see Figure 11). As a follow-up to the previous question, participants were asked to explain how training was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some airports utilized Microsoft Teams, AAAE online training, webinars, Veoci, and Zoom. One airport participant mentioned developing “new SIDA training through an online tool so candidates could take the training independently.” 48.08 51.92 Yes No 0.00 20.00 40.00 60.00 80.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 9. Do you feel a remote work model is sustainable for your airport, even years into the future?

Survey Results 27   19.23 80.77 Yes No 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 10. Does your airport have a long-term plan for remote work? 34.65 65.35 Yes No 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 11. Were employees trained (either initially or recurrently) via either fully online asynchronous or hybrid/blended approach at any time during the March 2020–March 2022 time period?

28 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies Another participant mentioned how they had to juggle in-person training for on-site employees and virtual training for remote employees. As this participant shared, “Virtually. We used MSFT Teams and shared our screen. – This was for remote workers. On-site continued to be trained in-person.” For those airports that did not adopt online or blended training, in-person training was conducted with some COVID-19 protections in place. For example, as one participant shared, “In-person training with social distancing in place, limited number of attendees.” Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic placed a severe strain on organizations of all types and sizes. It also placed great strain on the emotional well-being of employees (including those in management). In that regard, participants were asked, “Morale took a hit during the pandemic, what ‘fun’ thing did your airport do that you can share?” Responses were quite varied, with some airports reporting that they did nothing in this regard. Other airports were more intentional in supporting employee morale through fun activities. Innovation often created the most fun. As one participant shared, “Online team building with scavenger hunt app. We competed against other departments and all the items were found outdoors or something you could do at home.” Another participant shared, “I produced videos to take the place of regular ‘All Hands’ meetings. When able, we met (socially distanced and with the doors open) in a hangar to create a sense of community and physical togetherness.” Experience has shown that intentional “fun” events have significant positive impacts on employees during a very stressful time. Participants were also afforded the opportunity to share any additional thoughts on this topic. Although lessons learned varied among participating airports, several themes were common. • Communication. Communication proved highly important during the pandemic. As one participant shared, “The biggest lesson learned is that communication is key in an organization and that our essential staff are the heart of the organization.” • Challenges. Remote work presented new, and in some cases, insurmountable challenges. As one participant shared, “Remote work is not ideal at all for the airport industry. The work being produced at home with other distractions abound [sic] are not conducive for a steady output of work. That coupled with the true need to have that face-to-face interaction with the many tenants and all of their facilities make me believe there is not a place for remote work in this industry.” • Desire. It cannot be assumed that all employees want to work remotely. As one participant shared, “Not all employees desire to work remotely. It can be accomplished with a little plan- ning and employers that are flexible will prevail in the competitive labor market.” • Benefits. Alternate work arrangements can benefit airports. According to one participant, “It took a pandemic for us to realize that work can get done in a different way. Employees feel like they get part of their lives back, not having to spend as much time and money com- muting to/from work every weekday. If the organization remains intentional to connect and communicate with the employees, we expect to see continued positive results.” Airport Employee Survey Participating Airports Unlike the airport/HR manager participants, the majority of participating airport employees (88.16%, n = 67) work at Part 139-certificated airports. A minority (11.84%, n = 9) of participating airport employees work at airports that are not Part 139-certificated. Although the study gathered data from airports representing all FAA NPIAS categories, most of the participating airport employees (38.16%, n = 29) work at large-hub airports. The remaining NPIAS categories were also Morale took a hit during the pandemic, what “fun” thing did your airport do that you can share? “Nothing. There was a very strict crack down on essential employee interactions meaning no more team meals, birthday celebrations or even in-person shift briefings. It really isolated staff and made a sometimes stressful job harder.” “For our onsite workers we had an appreciation day where we provided them with food and snacks. In addition, we offered a number of online offerings including virtual wellness, and Thursday Water Cooler Conversations.”

Survey Results 29   represented: medium hub (14.47%, n = 11), small hub (19.74%, n = 15), non-hub (11.84%, n = 9), non-primary (1.32%, n = 1), GA (9.21%, n = 7), and reliever (5.26%, n = 4). e study also had wide geographic reach, with all nine FAA regions represented. e Southern region was most represented, with 27.63% (n = 21) of participants. e Eastern and Northwest Mountain regions were the second most represented regions with 17.11% (n = 13) each. Other regions include Alaskan (2.63%, n = 2), Central (2.63%, n = 2), Great Lakes (13.16%, n = 10), New England (3.95%, n = 3), Southwest (7.89%, n = 6), and Western Pacic (7.89%, n = 6). All of the participating airport employees were at least 25 years of age. e age group with the most responses was 35–44 (36.84%, n = 28). A number of participating airport employees were also 45–54 (22.37%, n = 17) and 55–64 (22.37%, n = 17). e least represented age groups are 25–34 (17.11%, n = 13) and 65+ (1.32%, n = 1). is indicates that all age groups older than 25 years of age participated in the study. Airport Departments Participating airport employees work in a number of dierent airport departments (see Figure 12). e Aireld Operations department is the most common home department of participants, representing 31.58% (n = 24) of participants. e Planning and Design department was the next most common, representing 21.05% (n = 16) of participants. Other departments representing at least 10% of participants include Finance (14.47%, n = 11), Maintenance (10.53%, n = 8), and Properties/Contracts/Commercial Development (11.84%, n = 9). Remote Work Participants were asked “Were you trained via distance learning at any time during the pandemic (March 2020–March 2022)?” is question was asked to ascertain how much airport personnel training was conducted via distance learning for employees who were unable to be trained in-person during the pandemic (see Figure 13). e majority of participating airport employees (69.74%, n = 53) were trained via distance learning at some point during the pandemic. 31.58 2.63 3.95 6.58 14.47 3.95 7.89 6.58 2.63 10.53 5.26 21.05 5.26 5.26 1.32 11.84 7.89 22.37 Airfield Operations ARFF Concessions Environmental/Noise Finance Ground Transportation Guest/Customer Service Governmental/Legal Information Technology Maintenance Marketing Planning and Design Public Relations Police/Public Safety Procurement Properties/Contracts/Commercial Development Terminal Operations Other (please specify) Ai rp or t D ep ar tm en t Percent 0.00 20.00 40.00 60.00 80.00 100.00 Figure 12. Which airport department do you work in?

30 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies For those participating airport employees who were trained via distance learning, the survey asked, “If so, what is your perception of the quality of distance learning training versus in-person training?” Although responses were varied, several common themes emerged. Numerous partici- pants believed in-person training to be more effective than training via distance learning. At least one participant referenced the quality of training material and ability of the presenter. As one participant shared, “It’s good, although highly reliant on the quality of the presentation material and energy of the presenter while being highly susceptible to being ineffective based on the trainee’s degree of attention.” Other participating employees referenced the difficulty in staying focused and remaining engaged via distance learning. As one participant shared, “While instructors tried to be engaging, I felt that the ‘human element’ that was missing from the training was a determent to my overall learning. I felt it was very difficult to remain focused and engaged.” As one participant summarized, “Some training was not as effective as in person training, but was able to meet certification standards. The quality of training is dependent upon how much time was spent preparing for training sessions. For example: distance learning is more restrictive for preparations but is heavily dependent on presentation media (i.e., how well put together a PowerPoint is); vs in person training where there is more engagement with procedures, processes, and how to handle situations/equipment/systems.” To qualify candidates for the study, a qualifying question was asked: “Did you work remotely at any point during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020–March 2022)?” (see Figure 14). The vast majority of candidates completing the survey (78.08%, n = 57) did work remotely at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 16 (21.92%) of those receiving the survey and deciding to complete the survey did not work remotely at any time during the pandemic. This is evidence of the survey’s intended reach. Of those who did not work remotely, almost half (46.67%, n = 7) would have liked to, although, interestingly, more than half (53.33%, n = 8) would not have liked to work remotely. 69.74 30.26 Yes No 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Re sp on se Percent Figure 13. Were you trained via distance learning at any time during the pandemic (March 2020–March 2022)? What is your perception of the quality of distance learning training versus in-person training? “In-person is superior training. There is value in distance learning, however, the collaboration and learning discussions that take place in-person are critical to me for internalization of the knowledge gained.” “In-person is always better, but I felt the virtual training was of good quality and valuable.”

Survey Results 31   (One of the participants who did not work remotely did not respond to the follow-up question about whether they would have liked to have worked remotely.) Among those employees who did work remotely at some point during the pandemic, 46.30% (n = 25) would prefer to continue working remotely. However, more than half (53.70%, n = 29) would like to return to the office (see Figure 15). As the literature references “burnout” as a disadvantage of remote work, survey participants were asked, “To what degree have you experienced ‘burnout’ (physical or mental breakdown) 78.08 21.92 Yes No 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 14. Did you work remotely at any point during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020–March 2022)? 46.30 53.70 Work remotely Return to the office 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 15. Which would you prefer?

32 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies while working remotely?” Using a five-star rating system, the average response was 2.2 stars. Almost half of participants (46.15%, n = 24) responded “None.” Unfortunately, 23.08% (n = 12) of participants reported “significant” or “extreme burnout.” To better understand benefits to remote working from the employee’s perspective, participants were asked “What are the benefits to working remotely?” Although this open-ended question captured varied responses, several themes emerged: • Time Savings. By avoiding the daily commute, additional time allowed time for hobbies, spending time with family, and other tasks. As one participant shared, “I get more done as I usually start when I wake up. I get to spend a lot more time with my family and mix my hobbies in my daily routine.” As another participant shared, “Gained five hours from not having to commute.” • Fewer Distractions. For some, working from home was less distracting than the office. This resulted in greater productivity. As one participant shared, “I get more ‘quiet work’ done more quickly at home due to no interruptions and no ‘get ready for work’ time.” • Reduced Expenses. By driving less, remote employees saved money on fuel and incurred less wear and tear on their vehicle. As one participant shared, “No driving expenses.” • Work-Life Balance. With more available time, self-care became a priority, resulting in better work-life balance. As one participant shared, “More time for self-care like working out and walking the dog.” Realizing that remote work presents challenges (in addition to benefits), survey partici- pants were asked, “What are the challenges to working remotely?” Responses were plentiful, with 53 participants responding to this question. Common responses include: • Less community, less social interaction, feelings of isolation • Difficulty in feeling productive, as well as colleagues and supervisors who question if you’re productive • No dedicated workspace • Difficulty in unplugging from work • Computer/wi-fi problems • Distractions, including household chores and children Because the literature discussed the challenge of maintaining a proper work-life balance with remote employees, the survey asked participants, “How were you able to maintain work-life balance while working remotely?” Common themes include: • Leave work at a certain time • Adhere to a workday routine • Dedicated office space • Setting boundaries for family not to disturb during work One participant summed it up by sharing a formula: “More time at home = better work life balance.” To gauge employee perspectives on whether remote work is here to stay, survey participants were asked, “Do you feel working remotely is sustainable for the long-term?” (see Figure 16). Almost half (45.28%, n = 24) feel that remote work is sustainable for the long term. Although 24.53% (n = 13) are not sure, 30.19% (n = 16) do not feel that remote work is sustainable for the long term. This perspective closely mirrors the airport/HR manager perspective, with (as previously discussed), 48.08% (n = 25) of managers believing that remote work is sustainable for the long-term. The literature referenced the challenge in training remote employees during the pandemic. To understand the degree to which airports experienced this challenge, survey participants What are the challenges to working remotely? “More difficult to engage with others. Loss of informal work discussions. Harder to monitor the work of subordinates.” “Some work physically can’t be done remotely. More self-discipline is needed to stay on-task. Proper environment is needed to reduce distractions.”

Survey Results 33   were asked, “Do you feel that training is more difficult while working remotely?” (see Figure 17). Most of the participants (43.40%, n = 23) feel that training is more difficult while working remotely. However, 30.19% (n = 16) feel that training was not more difficult while working remotely. Just over one-quarter (26.42%, n = 14) were unsure. Participating airport employees were also asked, “Do you feel that innovation is more difficult while working remotely?” Just over half (50.94%, n = 27) of participating airport employees feel that innovation is more difficult while working remotely (see Figure 18). 45.28 30.19 24.53 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 16. Do you feel working remotely is sustainable for the long-term? 43.40 30.19 26.42 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 17. Do you feel that training is more difficult while working remotely?

34 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies To determine if airport employees think their career progression might be negatively affected by remote work, participants were asked, “Do you feel your career might suffer while working remotely?” In general, participants do not believe their careers will suffer while working remotely (47.17%, n = 25). However, one-third of participants (33.96%, n = 18) worry that their career might suffer while working remotely. A few (18.87% n = 10) were unsure (see Figure 19). To determine how remote work may have affected esprit de corps, participants were asked, “Do you feel it is difficult to add new members to your team/department while working remotely?” The vast majority (71.70%, n = 38) do feel that new employee integration is difficult 50.94 33.96 15.09 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 18. Do you feel that innovation is more difficult while working remotely? 33.96 47.17 18.87 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 19. Do you feel your career might suffer while working remotely?

Survey Results 35   while working remotely. A few participants (18.87%, n = 10) do not feel that it is difficult to add new employees to the team/department while working remotely (see Figure 20). Employees expect that managers will be available for them when needed. However, employees working remotely are physically distanced from management. The survey asked participants, “Do you feel that your manager is less available while working remotely?” Although 56.60% (n = 30) of survey participants do not feel that their manager is less available while working remotely, 39.62% (n = 21) do feel their manager is less available (see Figure 21). 71.70 18.87 9.43 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 20. Do you feel it is difficult to add new members to your team/department while working remotely? 39.62 56.60 3.77 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 21. Do you feel that your manager is less available while working remotely?

36 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies To gauge whether airports were intentional about maintaining workplace culture with remote workers during the pandemic, participants were asked, “Do you feel your airport has engaged in team and culture-building exercises while workers are remote?” Unfortunately, 47.17% (n = 25) of participants indicate their airport did not engage in team and culture-building exercises while workers were remote. That being said, 37.74% (n = 20) of participants indicate their airport did engage in team and culture-building exercises while workers were remote (see Figure 22). To confirm whether one of the well-recognized disadvantages of remote work, diminished social interaction with co-workers, really affected airport employees, participants were asked, “Do you feel you are socializing less with co-workers while working remotely?” Unfortunately, 84.91% (n = 45) of participants felt they were socializing less with co-workers while working remotely. Only 13.21% (n = 7) felt they were not socializing less with co-workers while work- ing remotely (see Figure 23). Similarly, participants were asked, “Do you feel that morale among your team has suffered while working remotely?” Although 45.28% (n = 24) of participants indicated that morale did not suffer, 37.74% (n = 20) of participants indicated that morale among team members did suffer while working remotely (see Figure 24). Participants were also asked, “Do you feel your team’s culture has suffered while working remotely?” Although 48.08% (n = 25) felt their team’s culture did not suffer, 42.31% (n = 22) did feel their team’s culture suffered while working remotely (see Figure 25). To provide survey participants the opportunity to share insight into how they may have done things differently during the pandemic, participants were asked, “If you were in charge of the organization/department during the pandemic, what would you have done differently, if any- thing?” This was an interesting question, as it provided participating employees the opportunity to “assume” a managerial role and suggest how things could have been done differently. In total, 43 responses were received, addressing numerous improvements. Some feel that remote work should continue. Some would have better supported remote employees. Others would have pro- vided better communication about health and wellness opportunities. Acting upon employee 37.74 47.17 15.09 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 22. Do you feel your airport has engaged in team and culture-building exercises while workers are remote?

Survey Results 37   84.91 13.21 1.89 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t 37.74 45.28 16.98 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 23. Do you feel you are socializing less with co-workers while working remotely? Figure 24. Do you feel that morale among your team has suffered while working remotely? feedback was also referenced as important. Some of the specific suggestions for handling their workplace’s response to the pandemic offered by employees include: • “I would have continued to allow a hybrid schedule so that people could continue to have some limited work from home options if they desired.” • “I would have increased interaction and made sure that all team members had the tools and equipment available at home for remote work, including ergonomic chairs, desks, etc.”

38 Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies • “Provided more and consistent communication about health and wellness opportunities. Though I did not experience this need, many did, and I feel were unaware of others feeling the same or of services offered.” • “Accepted the feedback received from surveys and had an informal dialogue to find a common ground to encourage and upbuild the morale first and then promote new and innovative opportunities for the organization in the future.” Participants were provided an opportunity to share any additional thoughts. Noteworthy comments include: • “I believe the modern-day culture is anything but modern. From schedules, to work/life balance, to how people are compensated, including employer’s flexibility in exchanging insurance and vacation benefits for wages at the individual level. We have a long way to go on modernizing our business staffing models!” • “Airports should continue recognizing the many benefits to remote work and continue sup- porting their employees working remotely as much as possible, as it will INCREASE morale since it allows a better work/life balance.” • “Remote work is a valuable option necessary to attract talent. Employers should embrace this option or create hybrid work options when necessary or dictated by the job. Airports should not deny remote work for a department because another dept. cannot work remote (i.e., maintenance, ops, public safety). Generally, remote work would also make additional terminal space available to rent to tenants.” Overall, these comments were supportive of continued remote work and alternate work arrangements. 42.31 48.08 9.62 Yes No Not sure 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Pe rc en t Figure 25. Do you feel your team’s culture has suffered while working remotely?

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, airport operators had to develop strategies that maintained operations while ensuring employee safety and public health. Though not all airport-related tasks can be performed from remote worksites, many airports identified tasks that could be performed remotely.

ACRP Synthesis 126: Impacts of COVID-19 on Airport Work Models and Strategies, from TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program, provides information on those airports that experimented in remote work, provides options for airports that did not participate in remote work, and identifies emerging trends.

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