Jul 30 2021

For Federal Agencies, Planned Technology Upgrades Provided Happy Surprises

Upgrades to existing tools and the creation of new ones led to a new way to work.

Now comes the time for tough decisions: when to return to the office, how to return to the office, how many return to the office. It’s a confusing and unsettling moment — even new habits, like working at home in sweats, are hard to break.

Federal agencies recently received directives from the Biden administration on how to proceed with the return to work. But they’ve got to balance the plan to have people in the office with the fact that many federal workers are delighted with the extra flexibility provided by telework. 

Nearly half of all federal employees are still telecommuting late into the pandemic, according to the 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, so the hybrid office does seem to be the wave of the near future. It’s a new way to work for many agencies.

Existing IT Plans Yielded Benefits for Agencies 

As it turns out, some temporary measures taken by agencies to adapt to the telework environment are becoming permanent. The Defense Department deployed its Commercial Virtual Remote, the world’s largest rollout of Microsoft Teams, in just 60 days. In “Hello, DoD365; Goodbye, CVR. DOD Presents New Remote Possibilities,” you’ll read how the now-offline CVR that served more than 2 million DOD employees evolved into the permanent DoD365 tool.

And a program based at the U.S. Army’s Fort Gordon in Georgia let the Army test the National Security Agency’s Commercial Solutions for Classified Program, instituted in 2016. Read “NSA’s CSfC Program Provides Classified Agencies with Solutions for Telework” and find out how the CSfC makes telework possible for Army staff involved in classified communications.

Other agencies were thrilled to discover that the technology tools they would have adopted regardless of the pandemic work brilliantly in the new environment. For instance, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences was due to update its VoIP system in early 2020. Our story “VoIP Upgrades Bring New Features to Federal Phone Systems” outlines how the fortuitously timed upgrade gave staff at the government medical training school the ability to use the same communications profile no matter what device they were on.

The post-pandemic environment in which federal employees find themselves may feel new, but with existing tools used in creative ways, the office may almost feel “normal” again.