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The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly changed every aspect of life at Abt. We revamped the way we work, our office environments, and our benefit and well-being programs. As we did so, we put our values into practice.

Our Work Arrangements

In the span of a week in 2020, our global workforce turned remote. And we remained remote for nearly two years across many of our global locations, our employees adapted to deliver on Abt’s mission in a new way. Our primary focus in the latter half of 2021 was on preparing employees for our “next normal” and making staff feel comfortable with their options. Pre-pandemic work policies didn’t reflect the new realities of working from a variety of environments—home office and other locations—so we took the opportunity to reassess and emphasize workplace flexibility, looking toward the future we envision for Abt.


As we move into our "Next Normal," we will think of work as something you do, not a place you go, and we recognize that work can be done anywhere Abt is authorized to work.

– Lisa Simeon, Chief Human Resources Officer & Chief Operating Officer

When U.S. employees chose where they wanted to work, 57 percent elected to remain fully remote; 22 percent opted for hybrid, coming into the office up to two days a week; and another 20 percent selected the option of being onsite the majority of the week. Moving to our next normal is much more than updating a policy or choosing a new commuter type, though. It's a shift in mindset to meet the possibilities of post-pandemic life, while acknowledging the reality that we'll be dealing with COVID globally for years to come. Of course, we encourage periodic office visits to share ideas, bond, and catch up with colleagues when it’s safe to do so.

Our Buildings

Day One back in the office for some was a step outside of a secure bubble that many have spent so much time reinforcing. To protect the health and safety of our employees as they reentered the workplace, we applied for and received the WELL Health-Safety Rating in our two largest U.S. offices—Rockville, Maryland and Cambridge, Massachusetts. WELL is an evidence-based, third-party verified pathway for addressing acute health threats. The rating helped us confidently prepare our spaces for re-entry when COVID-19 risk levels permitted. The rating is a roadmap for everything from keeping offices clean and sanitized to monitoring facilities’ air and water quality. Both our Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia offices are in the certification process as of 2022.

Our Support Resources

Nearly two years of COVID-19 anxiety, uncertainty, and sporadic isolation have left their mark on the global workforce. Abt’s Work/Life Assistance Plan had an uptick in comprehensive use—from 25 percent in 2020 to 35 percent in 2021 in the U.S., and from 6 percent to 13 percent in the same period for Local-Country National (LCN) staff. Our Work/Life Assistance Plan connects employees to mental health services that many of us have needed.

Abt increased equitable access to our resources as employees continued to face COVID-19 related challenges. We delivered three live seminars for employees in Uganda and held four virtual support groups for employees in Malawi, Uganda, and Namibia after colleagues passed away. In August, Abt provided an additional 16 hours of sick leave for our LCNs so that staff would be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine once it became available. We recognized that, in many LCN locations, traveling to get the vaccine and recovery afterward posed an undue burden.

The staff-led Mental Health Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Working Group in Australia, the Well-being at Abt Employee Networking Group in the U.S., and each of the Peer Advocate and Peer Support Person Networks in Abt’s global programs and home offices additionally advocate for a safe environment for those experiencing mental health conditions. Australia’s D&I groups specifically work with senior leadership to improve policies and procedures to support employee well-being across the entity.

While pandemic-related health and safety was everyone’s priority in 2021, Abt’s 86 members of the Government of Australia-funded Partnership for Human Development (PHD) program in Timor-Leste had to face all of this with the backdrop of massive flash flooding. To confront the obstacles, the PHD team drew closer, drawing on each other for strength and resilience in the face of fear and anxiety. Working together, the PHD team got fully vaccinated faster than any other Abt program office—inspiring us all to follow suit. The PHD team knew the importance of psychological safety and how remaining connected and sharing information via methods like WhatsApp would keep them strong and safe.

timor team

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