Successfully supports the hybrid workforce

Public sector leaders can do a lot to keep employees healthy and productive-on-site and onfwritten by John Asquith.

John Asquith

Like their counterparts in the private sector, governments are eager to get employees back to office safely as soon as possible. But like the private sector, public employees do not necessarily share their enthusiasm for returning to the workplace.

Office -based employees are accustomed to working from home and want to continue it – even part -time – no matter what happens with Covid -19.

A recent Deloitte survey of public sector employees around the world found that 74 percent believe that virtual work has a positive impact on their well -being.

Fifty -two percent said they could better integrate the demands of their personal and professional lives because of the changes their organization put in place during the pandemic.

The transition to a hybrid workforce where employees have the flexibility to work from home or an onsite office has been underway for many years, but the government is generally slower to adapt than the private sector. That changed when virtual work was pushed at us during the pandemic. Now it is clear that the hybrid model is the way of the future.

Creating more adaptable work environments and empowering employees to work productively and safely, wherever they sit, is a top priority of digital transformation. To successfully support hybrid work, government leaders need to address these three imperatives.

1. Provide employees with tools that facilitate collaboration without adding complexity

The way information flows between colleagues and agencies is in dire need of improvement over some time. These issues only exacerbated when people started working roughly.

One of the biggest frustrations in the world of work is wasting time chasing people for answers and providing status updates. That’s because emails, spreadsheets, and reports are normal means of communication around projects. When someone is out of the office or the ball falls, it can stop everything. In large projects, it is difficult to get a real-time view of the big picture. And many times the government, has to make important decisions based on trailing data. This is incredibly ineffective.

That’s why “collaborative work” will be one of the biggest focus areas for digitalization over the next two years in public sector organizations, according to research by ESI ThoughtLab and ServiceNow.

Almost every government body is asking: What work processes can we digitize – and what needs to stay on site?

Many digital initiatives fail because they are point solutions that provide limited value to a small group of employees while adding to the complex web – and costs – of operating systems. Conversely, the best technology solutions combine people, data, and systems.

2. Enable safe work from anywhere

In order for employees to work remotely, governments must move more jobs to cloud environments.

The current IT infrastructure is not designed to support work outside the walls of the office. Cloud-first policies in countries like the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, and Singapore have encouraged government organizations to move more workload to the cloud, but doubts persist.

Data security is paramount. More people off the site means more potential entry points for hackers. How can you ensure that the right employees have access to the right data in a secure way, while keeping other areas restricted?

Commercial cloud environments have become more sophisticated-in many instances providing a more secure environment for a hybrid workforce, compared to legacy systems focused on protecting on-site access.

A cloud platform that is integrated with existing legacy systems but does not require each user to log in separately to those systems can provide more security control and access permissions. In addition, it facilitates employee use of insecure apps and improperly secure devices that provide an open door for hackers.

3. Create more flexible, healthy office spaces

Worker health and safety is the number one priority as government employees return to on-site workspaces amid an ongoing pandemic.

But how do you manage and monitor office interactions when the workforce is more fluid, with different people in place at different times and days? There is so much detail to collect and manage — from health status and immunizations to workspace assignments and capacity levels.

Here smart workplace apps and other technologies are available to let employees take care of day-to-day issues, such as booking a particular workstation or providing details about their health status. This data can be automatically rolled into dashboards used by department leaders, HR, and facility teams, among others, to ensure there are no errors.

The technology can even help manage capacity levels and map floor layouts. When all of this data lives on a single cloud-based platform, cross-functional teams can work together more easily to make quick decisions.

Regardless of where employees sit, digital workflows are essential in helping governments boost productivity and efficiency. And when public sector employees can work better, citizens will get better service.

* John Asquith is head of change for government at ServiceNow Australia

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