ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. —
If adversity is the mother of invention, then the coronavirus is the spark launching the 78th Digital Air Base Wing era at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
“We are transforming into a more digitally-centered air base wing. This is a culture shift, and we have to start doing things differently,” said Danielle Little, 78th ABW Communications Directorate acting director. “COVID-19 shocked and forced us into this virtual workplace era.”
In the spring, at the beginning of the pandemic, more than 10,000 Team Robins members received a crash course on teleworking. To date, approximately 3,500 base employees are still working from home.
The new normal of working from home is just one of the many components to turn the 78th ABW into the Air Force Model for Mission Partner and Community Integration.
“This is about innovation and ingenuity,” said Col. Brian Moore, 78th ABW commander. “We have so many skilled and talented workers with the willingness to accomplish this vital mission. I’m confident we will be successful moving forward in this escalated digital era.”
The mission will be accomplished through eight lines of effort:
-ABW Cyber Systems Oversight
“Our focus is having more of a digital footprint and maximizing telework,” said Little. “We want to become more automated, paperless and have a more virtual presence. We are looking toward turning our office spaces into a hoteling concept.”
Hoteling is a civilian business trend. Under this concept, employees will no longer have a dedicated cubical. And when an in-office visit is needed, employees will set up their computers at any available docking station to complete their work.
According to Little, this approach can help save the Air Force money. By hoteling and having fewer people in a facility at one time, there will be less of a need for renovations or additional buildings to accommodate growth.
Additional cost savings would come through the reduction of utilities like water and electricity.
Another step toward efficiency is the ‘soft phone’ concept, which falls under the unified communication plan.
“This will mean one less device for some employees to need,” said Little.
She added, “You will no longer need a handheld work cell phone or office landline for calls. A person would not need your cell phone number. They can call your ‘soft phone,’ which would be integrated into your laptop. This is more efficient and reduces the reliance on the phone system and trunks that we have on base. “
But, with this freedom and flexibility, comes the need for heightened cyber security.
Team Robins’ officials expect the battle behind the keyboard will intensify as adversaries step up their efforts to access Air Force data. To prevent hacking, there will be an increased focus on monitoring and protecting base data.
“It is paramount for Team Robins to be vigilant and proactive as we aim for greater productivity and excellence on this digital journey,” said Moore. “I believe what we will accomplish will make us a stronger base and overall stronger Air Force.”
Little added that the changes will take some time to implement, and in order to be successful, team members must be willing to go with the flow.
“We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and be ready to constantly pivot. Technology is shifting and we will have to adapt to multiple changes at once. We can and will do it,” she said.