Wanda Jones, the chief security information officer at the U.S. Air Force, said her agency has seen a high level of productivity after the switch to remote work and plans to continue to telework beyond the pandemic, while keeping security top of mind.

“We’re not going back. We have proven that we’re able to continue to operate in a very high fashion,” Jones said today during a virtual panel hosted by FCW. “Some of the things that definitely had to change is our mindset – the culture around telework. We have exhibited high productivity… We know that we can do it.”

Jones said the more permanent move to remote work has also brought up the discussion of security and privacy awareness – two things the Air Force is taking into account while working from home.

“Having that capability to where you can use your government-furnished equipment, your personal devices, all that security has to be taken into account,” Jones said. “There’s always opportunity for our adversaries to infiltrate our system, so having that vigilance and continuous monitoring in place along with training and the capability, all wrapped up into one, ensures that we’re able to continue and accelerate down this road.”

Jones also said the telework environment has led her agency to take part in more collaboration than ever before, especially when it comes to developers.

“In this environment, you’re collaborating as you’re developing, you’re adding comments from other developers, and doing it in a telework environment, doesn’t really stop you, it actually gives you more opportunity to have those discussions to fix those issues and to pass it through a process that is definitely more collaborative than before,” Jones said.

The other panel member, Michael Germaine, vice president of sales at OneStream Software, agreed the Federal government does not need to return to their physical offices to produce great work.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to be back to that normal,” Germaine said. “One of the good things I’ve seen that’s come out from the government side of things is that, I think they were very nervous on would they be able to work remotely. They’ve been so used to have always been in the office and I think they’re seeing that it’s been even more efficient than they thought, having people work remotely.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.