Jul 21 2020

The Pivot to Mass Remote Work: CBP Found a ‘Great Opportunity to Learn’

For U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the coronavirus crisis yielded lessons that will inform how the agency supports workers in the future.

Editor's Note: This is one of a series of Q&As FedTech has conducted with government IT leaders on how they pivoted to remote work. For more entries in the series, click here.

Edward Mays, executive director of the Enterprise Data Management and Engineering Directorate at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he would have been “apprehensive” a few months ago about scaling out the agency’s telework capabilities too quickly. But circumstances left him no choice. 

Like agencies across the federal government, CBP was forced by the coronavirus to send most of its employees home in mid-March and support widespread telework. To meet growing demand, the agency has stepped up its education and development programs, with about 7,000 employees across CBP receiving training in Microsoft Teams in a matter of just a few weeks. 

Mays says that CBP leaders are still evaluating the impact of moving so many employees to remote work. While productivity has largely remained stable for the existing workforce, he says, it’s not clear how the remote work environment will affect new employees trying to establish connections within their teams. 

Here, Mays discusses what CBP leaders are learning from navigating the crisis. 

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