As a signal that the White House will now operate in the manner recommended by the government in the midst of a pandemic, many Biden staff will continue to work from home in the days and weeks to come.

Officials said they received new government computers and phones that were activated at noon on Wednesday, allowing them to conduct official business from living rooms, kitchens and home offices.

Although many individual offices in the West Wing have been affected, the building will not be at full capacity, as it has been for much of last year despite the pandemic. The few places that have implemented certain work-from-home requirements under Trump, such as the National Security Council, will continue to have officials work remotely.

National Security Council staff who arrived Thursday to work at Eisenhower’s executive office building were largely sent home and said they would telecommute for the foreseeable future due to stricter Covid-19 measures imposed by the administration.

According to an administration official, only “business continuity” staff will be allowed to work inside the building, which includes National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his senior advisers, as well as the heads of a few. key managements and other key personnel.

Other staff who need access to top secret information would be allowed in on an ad hoc basis, the official said. Many of the staff who had entered before are told they will have to stay home.

This does not include key Biden staff, such as Chief of Staff Ron Klain and press secretary Jen Psaki, who were in the building on Wednesday when Biden first arrived.

But other mid-level and lower-level staff will be working from home, a departure from Trump’s aides who have mostly continued to come to work without wearing masks.

Psaki said during his press briefing on Wednesday that all staff entering the complex will be required to undergo a Covid test, wear an N95 mask and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Plexiglass barriers were also mounted on desks in the West Wing, which Trump officials had resisted.

“The president has asked us to be role models for the American people as well, and this is vitally important to us too,” she said.

Acting as a model for the country rather than a sapping influence was another sign of Biden’s intention to reignite the way the White Houses operated.

After four years of thunderous chaos, there were other signs the volume would be lowered a bit.

Biden’s daily schedule had been written without a tedious statement that he would work from morning till night. By swearing in staff remotely from the State Dining Room, the president warned of internal feuds and disrespect – “I’ll fire you right now” – rather than admit that he actually loved his subordinates by each other’s throats.
The decrees he signed in the Oval Office had been checked in advance by lawyers for the administration. There was no midnight scramble to make sure these were legal or competing factions trying to insert different language. He didn’t hold them up and slowly moved his signature for the cameras.
Tweets came and went and no one was fired. Tom Hanks was involved.

After a troubled four-year presidency and an active disregard for the phrase “how things are done,” Biden’s entry into the White House ushered in a conscious return to tradition and protocol.

It was hardly a mistake. Biden presented himself as the candidate who could fix the basic institutions and conventions that former President Donald Trump had shattered. And he promised his years in government would bring a level of skill to a country ravaged by the coronavirus, which the previous administration mismanaged.

Biden’s calling card was to get back to ‘how things are done’. And on his first day as president, in big ways and small ways, he made sure things got done the way they were.

During her first daily briefing, the White House press secretary opened by appealing to the Associated Press, a tradition that had been abandoned, and managed to answer questions without a multitude of insults – and without no mention of the size of the crowd.

The first phone call from a foreign leader on Biden’s list was planned and announced in advance: Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, perhaps the country’s least controversial ally.

The photo ops went without half-hour discussions with reporters who concealed their original intention. A redesigned Air Force One model in bright red and black that once graced the Oval Office was gone, as the fate of its new color scheme was unclear.

“I did not have the opportunity to go into this further today,” said press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about the paint job on the plane, relegating to the background an issue that once preoccupied airplanes. presidency hours.

Institutional knowledge

Biden’s assistants have long sought to tie his institutional knowledge and respect for tradition with his ability to solve the nation’s problems. They paid attention to such things as language and optics to project work readiness, even subconsciously.

From the start, his campaign posted daily schedules listing Biden’s activities in the established style of a president, even when he spent days with nothing on it. Its events were organized in a way that was reminiscent of a president’s official commitments, even though Trump’s official commitments generally resembled campaign events.

Much like the president himself, the team Biden brought with him to the White House has more experience in government than any administration in memory. Led Klain, who worked in two previous administrations, Biden’s team is filled with former White House alumni of President Barack Obama and other sectors of government.

When they arrived in the West Wing on Wednesday morning, many knew their way through the maze of offices and meeting rooms. Unlike Trump’s team, which went without knowing how to turn on the lights in the Cabinet room for days, Biden’s aides know how the building works.

Likewise, do they know how the government generally works – or at least how it worked before Trump took over.

Officials say one of Biden’s main goals in his early days is to stabilize the country and restore a sense of normalcy after a four-year period of division under Trump. For a country exhausted by the daily turmoil of Trump’s presidency, a more traditional Commander-in-Chief might put the White House back in the minds of Americans rather than exist as pervasive anxiety.

“Politics must not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” he said in his inaugural address Wednesday.

A different view

Trump leaves Washington an outcast as his era in power comes to an end

This is not necessarily how Trump supporters see it. They saw the previous president’s willingness to abandon presidency standards as a sign that he was abandoning a system that had left too many behind.

His tweets, which ended this month when Twitter suspended his account, were a balm for those fed up with political correctness. His availability in the unvarnished press offered a first-hand view of his thinking, although it was usually riddled with lies.

The management style he employed – which could generously be described as unchecked chaos – ensured that he was the center of attention all the time. He believed that having advisers in front of him usually led to the best possible outcome.

Decorum has become self-defined; While Trump insisted that he be given the utmost respect because of the office he held, he offered little in return to the democratic system that put him there.

Ironically, Trump seemed to enjoy the more traditional aspects of his job the most: military journals, marching bands, displays of deference.

But he openly admitted that his style was not normal. He called it “the presidential election of modern times”.

Biden, at least during his first few hours in office, is running for a regular presidential election.

This story has been updated with additional reports.

CNN’s Vivian Salama contributed to this report.