Telework, Global Health Crisis and Records Management…OH MY!
Vol.6 Issue 7

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic a large number of Aeronautical Center employees are currently teleworking or are perhaps teleworking more often than they were before. Telework is simply a work arrangement whereby an employee can perform their in-office duties from home or another approved work location. However, because employees are working from home, their responsibilities to protect and manage the records (hardcopy and electronic) that they create and use do not change. The National Archives has specific direction on how to manage records, not only while teleworking, but also during the COVID-19 global health crisis.

Federal records management is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved with the life cycle of records–creation, maintenance and use, and disposition. Records management provides for the adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and effective, economical management of agency operations (Federal Records Act 44 U.S.C. 2901).

Teleworking with feline coworker

Federal employees have three basic obligations regarding Federal records that also apply in a telework environment:

  1. Create records needed to the business of their agency, record decisions and actions taken, and document activities for which they are responsible;
  2. Take care of records so that information can be found when needed. This means setting up directories and files, and filing materials (in whatever format) regularly and carefully in a manner that allows them to be safely stored and efficiently retrieved when necessary; and
  3. Carry out the disposition of records under their control in accordance with agency records schedule and Federal regulations.

Employees must also consider and follow agency/organization-specific policies for managing records that contain personally identifiable or security-classified information.

Employees may find that they use personal email accounts or other electronic messaging (for example, text messages or messaging apps within social media or video conferencing tools) to communicate for work. The Federal Records Act requires federal employees who use non-official electronic messaging accounts to copy their electronic messages to an official account or forward a copy to an official account within 20 days (when the messages are not temporary records with a retention of less than 20 days). The role of the Federal employee in email management is that all employees are required to review each message, identify its value, and either delete it or move it to a recordkeeping system. Some email such as spam or all-staff announcements may be deleted immediately. Email should be kept in a searchable and retrievable manner in order to meet immediate business and access needs.

In our current work environment, many meetings, seminars, training sessions, and other events have moved to a virtual configuration such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom. Employees are required to continue managing the records created with these tools, as they normally would have, if the meetings with the same technology occurred in person at the Center.

Records Management Training from the National Archives
FAQ’s about Telework and Records
FAQ’s regarding Records Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The work situation we are in is new for all of us and some households have multiple teleworkers with multiple types of records usage. This situation can certainly be stressful. Make time to create an organized, peaceful, and inspiring home office or workspace. Many fun and creative organizing systems and tips can be found online. A clean and enjoyable workspace benefits one’s mental health and productivity, reduces stress and improves focus.

If you or your organization have questions regarding Records Management during teleworking, reach out to the Center Records Officer, Debbie Uglean.

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