As more Federal employees transition to telework to combat the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, agencies are facing massive network strains. At the Department of Energy (DOE), they are considering staggering work schedules to spread out network traffic.
Melody Bell, associate deputy assistant secretary for resource management at the Office of Environmental Management within DOE, explained the idea at an ACT-IAC Networks and Telecommunications Community of Interest Webinar on March 17.
“We don’t have the bandwidth, necessarily, for everybody to be online at the same time. That’s a physical challenge,” she said. Giving Feds more flexible work hours would reduce the burden on the network and, therefore, help the agency overcome this challenge.
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced agencies like DOE to realize that “the future of work, the future of the workplace, the future of our workers is more into this virtual world where we need the tools,” Bell added. The other challenge of this digital workspace is realizing that the agency relies too much on email. While they have cloud tools to foster collaboration, they aren’t being used to their full potential.
“Changing the way we, obviously, communicate with each other is also changing the way we think about how to have the data and information available to us so that we as a community can share it without pressing the flesh,” Bell said.
Bell’s office at DoE is also using cloud-based applications to improve internal training.
“As a part of our coaching program, we ask each of our subject matter experts to put their information in the database to use the virtual tools and then we set up regular brown bag lunch and learns,” she explained. Using SharePoint and other database systems, Bell’s office is finding new ways to utilize data management tools for knowledge sharing and training and “peer coaching has been a phenomenal resource” for the agency.