Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the 19th Communications Squadron continues the task of ensuring personnel across Team Little Rock have access to the tools they need to successfully complete the mission at home and in their work centers.
With the need for members of TLR to work from home being more prevalent due to COVID-19, the 19th CS has recently seen an increased flow of customers needing their computer problems solved in order to complete their tasks remotely.
“It got really stressful right at the beginning,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cooper Graham, 19th CS client systems technician. “We had about two weeks when customers were coming in consistently needing access to the Virtual Private Network so they could work from home. Since then, we’ve been slowing down and getting back to normal workflow.”
The increase in teleworking created unique challenges for the squadron — an overflow of access needed to the VPN and the threat of the novel coronavirus produced a greater need to give people the capability of distancing themselves from others in their work center.
“The 19 CS has worked in tandem with our Air Force enterprise counterparts, who have raced to increase VPN access to accommodate the increased need for TLR users to telework and access network services remotely,” said Maj. Darris Johnson, 19th CS commander. “At the start there were more users competing for access to the VPN than connections that could be made, thus driving the enterprise to rapidly increase connections to enable mission accomplishment while teleworking.”
The 19th CS’s role in making the connections essential to completing the mission were critical in allowing Airmen and civilians on base to put the distance between themselves needed to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“We have been enabling everyone to practice social distancing and go down to a minimal manning status,” Graham said. “Essentially, we are here to make sure people have access to the tools they need so the mission is able to continue even with people working from the safety of their home.”
In an effort to better themselves and their processes, the squadron also pushed out a survey to users who were teleworking in an effort to upchannel problems teleworkers were facing to those who could more easily address them.
“The survey that was pushed out was intended to be a feedback tool to provide direct insight and perspective into what users were experiencing when attempting to telework,” Johnson said. “The feedback gained from the survey was used to communicate to our Air Mobility Command and Air Force enterprise counterparts to shape their continued efforts of improving access and availability of network services for our users.”
During these times, when the way Airmen accomplish the mission is transforming daily due to the invisible enemy, technology will always be a significant tool that needs to be maintained by Airmen such as those from the 19th CS.
“People are reliant on computers,” Graham said. “Most of everyone’s data — their daily work, documents, and other important things — is on their computers and the easiest way people can share that information is through email. If we are not here to keep it all flowing smoothly, it slows down processes and complicates the mission.”