Coronavirus: Advice on Teleworking for Servicemembers
By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University
The coronavirus pandemic has brought a significant amount of social changes in a short amount of time. For many military servicemembers, one of those major changes involves the implementation of social distancing through teleworking. Teleworking involves working remotely from home, and this practice has some advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Teleworking
Some of the advantages of teleworking for military personnel is that it reduces the risk of the spread of coronavirus on military facilities. In addition, working remotely decreases the risk of a military servicemember becoming a carrier of the disease between the public and their families.
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By reducing the need to leave home, teleworking enables servicemembers to limit contact with others, thereby slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to protecting servicemembers and their families, teleworking protects an entire military unit and its workforce.
Some additional advantages of teleworking for servicemembers is that it optimizes the use of technology and reduces commuter-related expenses when servicemembers remain at home. Most importantly, teleworking provides continuity of essential daily operations and functions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure System Brings Military Resources Home
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), is an important technology that can benefit military servicemembers who work from home. To use the VDI system, a Common Access Card is needed to maintain security.
The VDI system enables employees to access secure information from their network computers at home. For example, VDI enables members to access their standard workstation resources, tools, software programs and work files from home.
For many servicemembers, the VDI system enables them to use the same resources that they would access on a base computer. VDI, coupled with teleconferencing software such as Skype for Business or Zoom, also helps servicemembers connect with their team and supervisors in real-time.
Teleworking and Less Need for Commuting
Another advantage of teleworking is that it reduces the time spent commuting, which provides more time to balance family life and work responsibilities. Teleworking often results in better work performance and productivity, because servicemembers can work without the distractions that commonly occur in an office environment. In one study, researchers discovered that 72 percent of federal employees who telework improved their work performance.
Disadvantages of Teleworking
However, there are some disadvantages to teleworking for servicemembers. Many parts of the country have experienced stay-at-home orders. As a result, servicemembers may experience unexpected distractions resulting from family members, especially young children, staying at home.
Ideally, one part of the home should be dedicated for working and used during normal work hours to limit distractions. Another disadvantage is that some servicemembers may struggle if there are not clearly defined work objectives provided to them.
Maintaining the Effectiveness of Remote Workers
To maintain efficiency, communication and collaboration should frequently occur between supervisors and subordinates. In addition, supervisors should measure output based on daily deliverables.
Also, supervisors should be aware that it may be difficult to detect stress-related problems employees have when they telework. During the coronavirus pandemic, it is very important for supervisors to remain available for their subordinates and watch for indicators that a remote employee is having problems either at home or with teleworking.
The good news is that an employee work-life survey found that teleworking helped 77% of employees in managing their stress. Also, 68% reported their health improved from teleworking.
Teleworking is a good option to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic among military servicemembers. But servicemembers who are permitted to telework should be provided clear guidance on what their supervisors expect from them, so that their work can continue without loss of efficiency.
About the Author
Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor at American Military University. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Europe, and Central America on the topic of human trafficking, counter-terrorism, police responses to domestic terrorism, and police stress management. Most recently, he presented at the International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.
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