Is telework here to stay?
As the COVID-19 pandemic inevitably winds down, this is the question on the minds of federal workers and senior agency leaders alike.
Now a year into a mass shift to telework for most personnel across government, agencies have proven they can support large-scale remote work in a way that — pandemic or not — it will certainly continue to a greater degree than before the crisis.
Even the nation’s most complex and bureaucratic organization, the Department of Defense, has proven it can successfully support large-scale telework.
“This is darn impressive when you look at where we started,” John Sherman, acting chief information officer of the DOD, told FedScoop in an interview. Now DOD has a suite of cloud-enabled collaboration tools called Commercial Virtual Remote to support millions of uniformed and civilian personnel as they telework. And the department wants to make the work-from-anywhere solution “enduring” — something that has been long wanted in the government, but difficult to achieve due to security concerns.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also recently put its flag in the ground on telework, with Secretary Tom Vilsack saying he wants personnel to have the flexibility to work remotely up to four days a week once things are back to normal.
These two agencies aren’t the only outliers. Many agencies of all sizes across the federal government acted without hesitation last spring to ensure mission continuity. And now that they’ve proven remote, virtual work as possible and productive, they’re considering what the future of telework looks like.
This special report — which will be updated in the weeks following its initial publication — will explore the current state of telework amid the COVID-19 pandemic and what doors have been opened for sustaining these capabilities when the crisis subsides.