News | April 15, 2020

DLA Aviation makes remote operations memorable while supporting the global fight against COVID-19

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency provides daily, behind-the-scenes support for U.S. military operations around the world and is also now providing supplies in the fight against COVID-19.

DLA Aviation employees continue to support Defense Department and federal operations while following a work-from-home directive. Rob Baker III, deputy director of DLA Aviation’s Supplier Operations Original Equipment Manufacturer Directorate, said most of his teams were already telework-capable before the crisis.

“The biggest challenge with the change for all of us, regardless of position, is adjusting to teleworking on a daily basis,” Baker said. “Then, we have to factor in that we all have home situations that we are trying to balance.”

The management team has established a battle rhythm with a daily teleconference to stay updated on tasks as well as to check on one another’s health and wellbeing, said Michelle Hardy, an integrated supplier team supervisor for the directorate’s Northrop Grumman, Aviation Fixed Wing and Structural Components Division.

“The agency has provided continuous information to keep everyone updated on the current situation, and that has been truly appreciated,” Hardy said. “We are still able to partner with our vendors and suppliers and complete our acquisition procurements to ensure we are focused on warfighter support. The ability to continue to support the warfighters in such times gives us a sense of accomplishment that pushes us daily to keep working hard and remain focused and committed.”

Employees may be working away from the installation—and each other—for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean employees aren’t staying connected with one another and having a little fun at the same time.

Travis Dunn, chief of the directorate’s Aviation Engines and Auxiliary Components Division, revived March Madness and extended it through April for a metrics competition to track accountability among his team members. In a message to his team, Dunn said, “We are truly fortunate to work in an organization that has the ability to work from home and that allows for flexibility in such times. Let’s continue to support our warfighters to the best of our abilities and execute our actions in an effective and timely manner.”

Baker, a self-professed extrovert, said he misses being able to walk around the office and talk to employees in person.

Seeking a way to lighten the emotional load for her team, Kelly Watts, chief of the Aviation Fixed Wing and Components Division, asked employees to provide photos of themselves in their home work environments. She plans to share the collection with her team.

In the same vein, but with bragging rights at stake, Baker announced his directorate would have an impromptu competition: The Fantastic Magnificent Remote Work/ Setup Remote Picture Contest. The Fantastic Magnificent is a word play on the FM organizational code for the Supplier Operations Original Equipment Manufacturer Directorate. Employees were asked to submit photos in three categories to showcase their work-from-home surroundings. The categories were Best Scenic View from Your Home Office Window, Best Original Setup and Funniest Picture. The contest aimed to boost employees’ resilience and recognize the challenges of working from home.

“One of the main reasons we implemented the picture contest was to normalize it for everyone at all levels, regardless of position,” Baker said. “It is a way to keep us connected and have a little fun while at the same time reminding everyone that we are all in this together, which has been the consistent message from all levels of DLA Leadership.”

The winners were all from the directorate’s Aviation Engines and Auxiliary Components Division: John Latoski, product specialist, for Best Scenic View; Kristie Ragsdale, contract specialist, for Best Original Setup; and Travis Dunn, chief, for Funniest Picture.