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Work Effectiveness is a Product, Not a Location, DOD Official Says

July 22, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Defense Department teleworkers have, by and large, continued the mission without being in a brick-and-mortar structure, a Defense Department official said.

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Peter T. Ranks, deputy chief information officer for information enterprise, joined a panel discussion titled "Telework Opportunities and Challenges" on a Defense One webcast today.

The department has been working toward software modernization and cloud infrastructure usage for several years, and this has been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ranks said.

A woman works on a laptop.
Budget Analyst
Anissa Nash, an Army Aviation and Missile Command budget analyst, teleworks from her home near Redstone Arsenal, Ala., June 2, 2020.
Photo By: Courtesy of Army Aviation and Missile Command
VIRIN: 200602-O-AB123-001C
A sailor wearing a face mask works on a laptop.
Virtual Recruiting
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Horner, assigned to Navy Talent Acquisition Group Philadelphia, conducts virtual recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic in Reading, Pa., July 13, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Diana Quinlan
VIRIN: 200713-N-WF272-1043

But although hundreds of thousands of service members are now working on the commercial virtual remote environment, the classified environment is much more difficult to scale in a safe way, he said.

DOD is working with the National Security Agency to make that happen, Ranks said, but for now the sensitive compartmentalized information facility is where that work will have to take place. However, SCIF conditions are often crowded, and it’s up to local commanders to ensure that personnel are staggered in shifts to reduce the number of people in those confined areas to allow social distancing.

An airman sits at a desk during telework.
Virtual Help
Air Force Staff Sgt. LeWillie Neal, 2nd Force Support Squadron, multitasks while virtually helping an airman to out-process at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., May 21, 2020. Members of the outbound assignments team are able to complete their workload while practicing social distancing via teleworking.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Christina Rios
VIRIN: 200521-F-GE882-1011C

Ranks said a big DOD success story during the pandemic has been that employees who are teleworking have increased  their productivity over what it was when they were required to go to an office. The department is looking to preserve that productivity and resilience after the pandemic is passed, and part of that challenge will be to embrace this new normal and have a cultural shift in thinking and attitudes across the force, he said.