Lauren Knausenberger, the chief transformation officer of the United States Air Force, said the pre-pandemic culture in the service was, “you’re not really working if you’re remote,” but explained that the service’s culture has shifted quickly out of necessity.

“It’s very rare that people would be teleworking,” said Knausenberger, speaking during a Defense One event on June 16.

She said on day one of the pandemic the Air Force had roughly 750,000 people, but only about 10,000 Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections. “Within two weeks of COVID, we were up to 250,000 VPN connections to get people working,” she said.

Knausenberger said that the Department of Defense (DoD) also did not have collaboration tools for all those in the service prior to the pandemic, calling access to those tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, “something that the commercial world takes for granted.”

“We were able to deploy Teams across the entire DoD within weeks,” she said, adding that the Air Force is also adopting Zoom.

In addition to adopting the tools, Knausenberger said the Air Force is focused on “strategic communications, to let people know what tools are available to them.” This has included town halls to focus on user experience.

In the past, most everyone was in the Pentagon, Knausenberger said. She said because of the pandemic the question has changed – “Now that your telecommuting, what do you need?”

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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.