Teleworkers: Check computers before taking them home

Lee Kiss, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz S-6 employee, works on a government laptop to make it available for a garrison employee to use for teleworking during the COVID-19 crisis.

The U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz S6, or “computer people in the basement,” are being swamped as garrison employees prepare to telework amid the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis.

As dozens of garrison employees begin to pull laptops from desk drawers and look at working from home, they are finding the computers need updates and other software so they can access work email and other sites to do their job.

The employees of the garrison S6 office are the only ones who can help them.

“Our workload will increase dramatically,” said Eric Swiger, USAG RP S6 director. “Teleworkers also need to understand as more people log onto our network, the network will become slower, so everyone will need to have patience.”

Matt Davis and Lee Kiss are two of the people who handle most of the computers. They say they have been working from the time they come in until the time they leave on telework computers for garrison employees for the last week.

Kiss said if an employee needs a computer for teleworking, they need to hurry because computers are a hot commodity.

“We have a limited amount to sign out,” Kiss said. “And they go fast.”

Davis said another thing to keep in mind is the S6 has instituted a “No Walk-ins” policy to protect employees from COVID-19 transmission. Teleworking exacerbates the wait times.

“Nobody can just walk in. If they need a device to work from home, they need to work through their director, who will work through our director, to make sure this is done to the best of our ability,” Davis cautioned.

Laptops are at a premium during this time. The three S6 employees advise those hoping to telework to look within their own organization for laptops, especially in the offices of services that have been shut down because of the crisis.

“But it takes time to make it ready for telework,” Kiss added. “If we have to re-image a laptop, it might not be ready the first day you need it.”

Swiger reminds everyone using a government laptop that it needs to be hooked up to the Army network at least once a week for any security updates, otherwise, the laptop may not be allowed on the network.

“I usually plug mine in on a Monday morning and by the time I’m done with my first cup of coffee, it’s updated,” Swiger said.