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Operational interruptions

On this page you can find recommendations for all agencies regarding continuity of work during operational interruptions while ensuring accessibility and resiliency for all employees. It supports the work of state agencies to be resilient in the face of disasters and disruptions, including those that may impact the technology we used to work – both in office and remotely. Understanding the context of how work location may influence decisions, and knowing what options are available to keep people working safely and effectively, will help decision-makers and supervisors act with confidence when they are faced with a suspended operations situation.

Where work happens: definitions and recommendations 

What is the definition of an official duty station? 

The Statewide Administrative Accounting Manual defines duty station as, "The city, town, or other location where the state official or employee's office is located, or the city, town, or location where the state official or employee's work is performed on a permanent basis. For the purposes of these travel regulations, Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey are considered to be the same official station. A state official or employee's official station is to be designated by the agency. It is to be determined by the needs of the agency and not assigned because it is the home or preferred living area of a state official or employee."  

Many of our state collective bargaining agreements refer to the location an employee is assigned as their duty station, or official duty station.  

During COVID-19, the agency can decide whether the employee’s residence is listed as a duty station, even if an employee is teleworking 100% of the time. The duty station may also remain the assigned location employee was reporting to before COVID-19 emergency telework. 

Once the risk to public health is diminished and teleworking employees are able to return to the workplace, agencies should consider where the employee typically accomplishes most of their work. In HRMS, use the employee’s Unique Facility Identifier (UFI) code and address to identify the location where the employee primarily conducts their work, if different than their position’s official duty station. The UFI does not need to be updated for temporary changes, but a telework agreement can – and should – document approved alternate locations for the employee to work remotely. If an employee is approved to work set days within a state office and set days from home or another alternate location, the telework agreement should include those details; including the official station designation for travel purposes for those set days. The SAAM does not require payment of mileage or travel time for a set "split" schedule as described above, unless unanticipated or unplanned travel is required without sufficient notice.

Example: A position’s official duty station is assigned to 1500 Jefferson St SE, Olympia, WA. The position’s UFI Code is set to A10186. The employee has an approved telework agreement to work from their home in Tacoma 3 days per week. The employee’s UFI Code is set to Z00320 – "Home-based Tacoma". If the agency has designated the official station to be the location the employee is scheduled to work, then travel to the 1500 Jefferson office is considered their normal commute on those days when they normally come to the office.

For more detailed information and HRMS data definitions, see the HRMS Data Definitions Resource Guide.

What is an alternative duty station/work location? 

An alternate duty station or work location is an approved location, reflected in a telework agreement, other than the employee’s primary work location where they may be able to continue to work if their primary assigned location is inoperable. These can be long term, such as a standing telework agreement where the employee works from home; occasional, such as an employee being approved to work from a state office in another city when in travel status a few times per month; or temporary, such as a safe place with power and internet service during a suspended operations event.

We encourage agencies to be flexible with alternative temporary work sites, as long as the employee is able to safely and securely complete their work. Some examples may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Shared office space with employees from different agencies 
  • A different building your agency leases 
  • Library 
  • Coffee shop 
  • Parking lot with a WiFi hotspot 
  • House of a friend, family member, neighbor, or other alternative residence 

What is the definition of non-operational for teleworkers? 

When the employee’s primary telework site is not functional or cannot be safely used.

Responding to operational interruptions at a work location

Who makes the decision for how to address a non-operational worksite? 

We recommend the employee reports the non-operational status to their supervisor. Their supervisor will then work with them on a solution and report to other parts of the agency if necessary. 

If the office is non-operational, what do teleworking employees do? 

In the event the employee’s assigned office is closed because it is non-operational, teleworking employees must telework each regularly scheduled workday during the emergency situation. 

Employees that were at the office who have approved telework agreements allowing them to work at an alternate location should travel to their telework site and work their normal schedule regardless of office closure. 

If these teleworking employees also experience outages for VPN, Internet or power, they may use some of the options outlined below in the "What options are available if the work location is non-operational?" section.

How can an employee report an operational interruption at their primary telework location? 

The employee should contact their supervisor. The supervisor will contact any relevant agency staff in accordance with the policy of their specific agency. The supervisor will reach a solution with the employee using options from the list below.  

Employees are expected to use their best judgment about the safety of themselves and their family members. If their residence is non-operational, and an employee believes conditions are not safe to travel, they are required to notify their supervisor and take appropriate next steps, outlined in the section below.  

What options are available if the primary telework location is non-operational? 

Different responses will be needed for different situations. Here is a list of possible options: 

  • Teleworking employee drives into the office (travel time does not count as work time) 
  • Teleworking employee drives into another location (library, coffee shop, parking lot with hot spot, etc.) 
  • Employees must connect only to verifiable public networks. Example: An attacker could create a wireless network called "Starbucks Wi-Fi" using commonly available technology. Employees must ensure that the network to which they are connecting is actually provided by Starbucks. Employees could verify a network by asking the proprietor if the network is theirs, or by seeing a sign within the establishment that lists the network’s name and password. 
  • Employees must not connect to "open" networks (those requiring no password to access) without verifying the network's ownership, as these are more likely to be compromised or illegitimate 
  • Employees working in public areas must take precautions to ensure that passers-by cannot view (or hear) confidential data 
  • Employees using public networks should use a VPN whenever possible to establish a more secure connection to any online resources.
  • Employees at an alternate work site can go home to telework 
  • Employees can work flexibly to make up the time later
  • Employees can focus on offline work (see offline resources
  • Use a non-operational leave type (payroll code 9044 or 9021)
  • Use accrued vacation leave

Responding to operational interruptions: decision tree appendices

Please review these two decision trees for additional information. These are intended to be appendices to this guidance, developed to simplify the decision-making effort when you or your employee is faced with some type of operational interruption. 

Resources for working offline

What are some things that employees can do without internet or without VPN? Save this guide to your desktop for things to do offline or if your VPN is inoperative. 

During work time, employees should select materials that are relevant to their assigned work duties.

Get a library card 

Support your public libraries and get a free library card. You can access a variety of subscriptions, programs, audiobooks, and e-books remotely. Many libraries are allowing you to sign up for a library card online. 

Video tutorials 

Other learning 


  • "Don’t Make Me Think" by Steve Krug 
  • "Crucial Conversations" by Kerry Patterson
  • "Thanks for the Feedback" by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
  • "Everyone Communicates – Few Connect" by John C. Maxwell
  • "Simply Said" by Jay Sullivan

Data and economics 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Employee engagement



  • "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker
  • "Coronavirus Explained" in episode "How to Cope" on Netflix
Last updated
Friday, May 21, 2021
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