Last week’s winter storm pummelled the East Coast of the United States, leaving as much as 30 inches of snow across the region. Despite federal buildings being closed due to impassable roads and suspended mass transit, U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) employees were able to carry out the agency’s mission using IT tools for telework.
In the Northeast and Caribbean Region, preparations began on Thursday when the region directed all employees in the impacted area to be ready to telework on Monday. Property managers prepped their buildings and ensured all snow removal equipment was ready to go. When the storm did arrive it was much worse than predicted, instead of 6 to12 inches of snow, the New York City Metro Area received 18 to 34 inches of snow. In the Mid-Atlantic Region, snow fall for the Philadelphia Metro area ranged from 22 to 32 inches.
Most GSA employees who could not make it to their offices used a variety of methods to work from home or other remote locations. Our data shows there are more than 3,800 employees in the DC area and approximately 3,600 were eligible to telework during the storm. The agency had the right infrastructure and technology support in place to be able to scale up to increased demand.
“Our GSA telework policy provides employees the flexibility to meet the needs of our customers from anywhere, while providing the benefit of increased work life balance,” noted Antonia T. Harris, GSA’s Chief Human Capital Officer. “It is great to see that during times of extreme weather or government closure, our workforce is still able to carry out our important mission for the American people.”
GSA’s Virtual Private Network (VPN), which provides a secure connection from a GSA-furnished computer or mobile device to the GSA network, experienced a three-fold increase in typical demand. Citrix, which allows remote access to GSA business applications and data which are only available on the GSA network, saw a 50 percent increase over the average number of applications launched per day. And, finally, MyView, which provides employees with a full virtual GSA Windows desktop experience, had higher-than-average use as employees used personal machines or mobile devices to access the GSA network.
This isn’t the first storm to impact the federal government nor will it be the last. The Chief Information Officer’s office is focused on ensuring our networks can handle increased utilization during high demand periods, and that it allows employees access to the right tools with minimal disruption to their daily routine. Enabling a telework-ready environment is an inherent part of how we work at GSA and we’re proud that it enabled GSA to continue serving the American public during inclement weather.