Virtual Office Employees Keep Patent Office Operational During Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK—Want to see the power of telecommuting from a virtual office in the federal government? Look no further than Hurricane Sandy and the United Stats Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

David Kaposs, director of the United Stats Patent and Trademark Office, recently wrote a blog post titled “A Day Like Any Other…” Kaposs was in office for Frankenstorm Sandy and for Snowmageddon, the storm that crippled the Washington, D.C. area in Feb. 2010. But this time, virtual office workers had it largely covered.

Kaposs sees similarities in terms of the storms’ emergency circumstances and federal government closures. But unlike Snowmageddon, virtual office workers were ready to keep the UPSTO up and running during Superstorm Sandy. In fact, Kaposs credits employees’ ability to shift gears and keep performing in the face of the storm to federal leadership in telecommuting from virtual offices.

“Despite the emergency government shut down on Monday and Tuesday, our patents and trademarks teams nonetheless averaged more than 70 percent productivity,” Kaposs says. “A remarkable achievement, considering many of our examiners couldn’t participate because of widespread power outages.”

Kaposs went on to say that the Trademark Assistance Center—the call center for trademark owners and attorneys to contact with general questions about the trademark process—was fully operational during the Hurricane Sandy closure, with 100% participation from virtual office employees.

“This level of performance does not come easily and it does not come overnight,” Kaposs says. “Under the guidance of our telework coordinator Danette Campbell, we created and implemented the systems and processes necessary for a premier telework program.”


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