3/15/20 - IDHS Staff Message from Secretary Hou: Travel and Upcoming Remote Work Guidance

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Your health and safety are extremely important to me, and I hear your concerns about travel and working from the office. Please see the guidance, below, regarding travel and meetings. My team is finalizing guidance regarding remote work, and you can anticipate more information tomorrow. Some eligible employees will begin remote work or on call status from home as soon as Tuesday, March 17thand through the following days. Please understand that some roles simply will not allow for remote work. However, we have already begun implementing plans to limit employees contact with each other and reduce large gatherings to make all of our work environments as safe as possible at this time.

Remote Work

Employees will fall into one of three major groups:

(1) Employees Whose Duties Require Them to Continue to Work at Their Physical Work Location

This includes many IDHS employees, including, but not limited to those:

  • Providing direct care and support at State Developmental Centers and Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Providing services to Illinois residents at FCRCs and DRS Local Offices
  • Providing support services (e.g. payroll and fiscal services) that cannot be provided remotely

Where feasible, some of these functions may be scaled down, on site (e.g. potentially FCRCs, DRS Local Offices, and support services), with other employees working remotely. Likewise, in some cases, employees may be able to split their time between remote and physical site work.

(2) Employees Whose Duties, With the Proper Technology Supports, Can Be Performed Remotely

This includes a number of Division central office and a number of Administration positions outside of IDHS's core divisions. However, those employees may, from time-to-time, still be expected to perform tasks at a physical location. These employees will be expected to work from their own personal computers and personal phones, unless otherwise already assigned a State laptop and/or State phone. In some limited cases, due to a high operational need, additional employees who do not have a personal computer at home, may be provided with a State laptop.

(3) Employees Whose Duties Can Only Be Performed at Their Physical Work Location and Who Will Remain On Call At Home

This includes employees who are not providing direct care, but cannot otherwise perform their duties at home. They will remain on call from home, staying on top of emails and phone calls, and are expected to be prepared to come into a physical work location, as needed.


Consistent with recent GOMB (Governor's Office of Management and Budget) guidance, effective immediately at IDHS:

All agency employees are "grounded" to their primary work locations, which may include work from home. Work-related travel is prohibited, including travel between Springfield and Chicago.

In-person meetings or events of more than 5 potential attendees should be cancelled or held virtually or by phone until further notice.

No out of state work travel through June 30 . Currently-scheduled out of state travel until then should be cancelled. Cancellation costs incurred by an employee as a result of this emergency policy will be reimbursed by IDHS.

Exceptions to all of the above may be made if it is determined by the Secretary or her designees (Division Directors, Assistant Secretaries, or the Chief of Staff) that the exception is critical to the continuity of essential state services, public health, and safety.

We appreciate your dedication, patience, and continuing hard work. Moving a number of IDHS employees to remote work is a big change, with many moving parts, not the least of which is making sure employees have access to needed IT systems and applications.

Most employees will immediately have the tools to be able to work from home, accessing email remotely and forwarding work phones to personal cell phones. However, there may be some who require additional access (e.g. to IES or CARS) that may either continue at their physical work site or be on call for a short period of time before being able to fully implement remote work.

For up-to-date information about if and how systems can be used remotely, please see the Remote Work page on OneNet (http://intranet.dhs.illinois.gov/onenet/page.aspx?item=123190).

Please also refer to the Remote Work page on OneNet tomorrow morning to complete a short survey regarding computer systems you need access to as part of your duties and responsibilities and regarding your home computer and internet capabilities.

Unless you are providing direct care in a DMH or DDD 24/7 facility, please complete the survey regardless of which work group, detailed above, that you believe you fall in. (Survey link: http://intranet.dhs.illinois.gov/onenet/page.aspx?item=123192 )

Further details regarding remote work will be coming tomorrow. In the meantime, please complete the remote work survey tomorrow morning and immediately implement the travel and meeting restrictions detailed above. If you have questions regarding the new policies, know that a more detailed communication will come out tomorrow.

For questions that you need answered today, please reach out to your direct supervisor. Thank you so much for your continuing service on behalf of Illinois' residents.


Grace B. Hou