Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has announced findings from an independent survey of C-level federal government executives showing that a majority expect the technology changes put in place at their agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to become permanent ways of conducting business, even after the pandemic.
Following the onset of the pandemic, federal agencies rapidly and successfully moved to virtual work environments. Consequently, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents (84%) reported they are more or just as productive since shifting to remote work, with 82% responding that they expect remote work to continue into the future. The survey found that 41% of respondents expect to telework an average three days a week post-pandemic, and another 41% expect to telework four or five days a week – compared to an average two days of weekly telework prior to the pandemic.
Conducted by Market Connections, the survey polled 300 federal government respondents on their perceptions surrounding the challenges and requirements faced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The results revealed a significant spike in federal telework, with respondents reporting that employees at their respective agencies are working a mean average of 4.72 days a week as a result of the pandemic. More than half of respondents (56%) reported they are somewhat more productive or a lot more productive as a result of increased telework.
“The pandemic introduced unprecedented challenges for federal agencies, especially those in agencies charged with public health and economic security,” said Mark Forman, vice president, digital government strategy, SAIC. “There is no question about the dedication of the federal workforce to perform their mission in the pandemic, but it would not have been possible without IT. And as the survey showed, people working in health-related agencies not only moved online, but worked on average more than five days a week. For that, we are very grateful.”
“At the same time, the pandemic has changed government operations, with digital transformation now viewed as essential,” Forman added. “The work environment of the future will be built around secure online access to data, applications, and collaboration tools.”
Respondents also identified a number of challenges associated with remote work; safely returning to the workplace; and guarding against fraud, waste, and abuse. Asked to assess the challenges they face as a result of the pandemic, large majorities of respondents registered concerns:
- 80 percent reported they found it extremely or somewhat challenging preventing transmission of COVID-19 in federal facilities for those who cannot telework;
- 77 percent reported they found it extremely or somewhat challenging managing federal IT systems to maximize telework;
- 75 percent reported they found it extremely or somewhat challenging detecting fraud, waste and abuse during the pandemic;
- 74 percent reported they found it extremely or somewhat challenging protecting government systems from cyberattacks during the pandemic.
Respondents rated their agencies’ responses to the pandemic to date, with nearly three-quarters grading their agencies as “A” or “B” for the ability to provide the data and applications needed to do their work during the pandemic; perform essential operations; and keep employees and critical data safe during the pandemic.