COVID-19 Heroes: Information Technology (IT) Teams Help Exchange Associates Fulfill the Mission from Home
Thanks to the IT Directorate’s ingenuity, more than 5,000 associates from around the world are working from home to support mission-essential front-line operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams of IT technology experts continue to fulfill their purpose of supporting those front-line associates and store teams serving Warfighters and their families.
Even before a national emergency was declared in March, IT teams were procuring computers, secure routers and other technology to ensure associates working from home could connect to the Exchange’s network.
The teleworking efforts comes after federal health officials urged people to practice physical distancing and stay at home to prevent catching or spreading the COVID-19 virus.
“During the past five years, we ramped up our plans to make sure we could support an event where we needed teams to work from home because of an extended crisis,” said David Drake, IT’s security chief. “We are fully prepared to handle any event that would prevent us from continuing the Exchange’s mission-essential services.
“Our testing and experience for hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks and pandemics fully prepared us and gave us confidence that we could provide the equipment and connectivity so associates could work at home if needed.”
Most of the 2,800 associates assigned to the headquarters in Dallas are working from home. In the field, at least 2,600 associates around the world are working remotely.
IT has helped the Customer Contact Center continue seamless service. Most of its 230 associates are at home using computers and secure routers to serve customers for e-Commerce, the Exchange Credit Program, the IT help desk, HR and FA Benefits.
Members of the IT Service Desk are teleworking to provide technical support 24/7 to associates. In March, the team received more than 7,600 calls about teleworking, a 67% increase over the previous month, and nearly 13,000 other technical calls, a 28% jump from February.
The IT Service Desk, Workplace Services and Security teams are working daily to ensure issues reported with work from home efforts are minimal and quickly resolved. An effort, led by Corporate E-mail Coordinator Robert Sparks, accelerated the roll-out of Microsoft Teams to leverage and better facilitate remote collaboration among managers and associates.
“These team members are critical to the Exchange’s ability to serve and support our Soldiers and Airmen by ensuring our worldwide workforce is up and running at full capacity,” said Debra Zarsk, vice president of IT Operations. “It is an honor to be part of a talented team that came together to support each other as we work through these challenging times.”