How the Public Sector is Navigating Remote Work
Public sector organizations are taking advantage of the benefits of a distributed workforce.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, ushering in the widespread adoption of remote work, studies revealed an increasing interest in remote work among professionals across industries. According to a 2019 analysis published by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, remote work for non-freelance, full-time employees increased 91% over the last decade, bringing the total, pre-pandemic number of Americans telecommuting to approximately 4.7 million. Owl Labs’ 2019 State of Remote Work report also found that part-time remote work has gained traction in recent years, with 48% of those surveyed claiming they work remotely between one and three times a week.
Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has normalized remote work, organizations that once questioned the practice are now reaping its benefits, including greater productivity, improved employee engagement, and higher employee retention ratings.
The Benefits of Remote Environments in the Public Sector
Many states across the country have experienced the advantages of remote work since evacuating their offices during the pandemic. In Georgia, government workers are now able to skip their daily, traffic-filled commute to Atlanta, boosting their productivity according to Calvin Rhodes, the state’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).
Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers further emphasizes the effectiveness of remote work. “The cat’s out of the bag,” said Rodgers. “We’ve proven we can be just as productive [remotely] if not more productive.”
The switch to remote work has also empowered public agencies to significantly expand their labor pools. After successfully transitioning nearly 17,000 employees to remote work, Missouri now plans to consider applicants who don’t live near the capital for its state IT positions. “It’s going to be a sea change for our state government,” said Missouri CIO Jeff Wann. “There had been sort of an aversion to work-at-home before, not so much in IT but outside of IT. That has radically changed, and so we’re going to see that going forward.”
Georgia, Ohio, and Missouri aren’t alone. Maryland IT secretary Michael Leahey says that minimizing office rentals and operational expenses through remote work could help the state weather future budget shortfalls, ensuring much-needed resources are distributed where they are needed most. “I think folks believe I’m kidding, but I’m not. I’m giving serious thought to turning my agency…into a virtual agency,” said Leahy.
What Government Agencies Need to Ensure Remote Success
Government agencies face numerous technological and security challenges when operating in remote work environments. Many have discovered that their existing VPN capacity is unable to support the increase in network traffic created by their dispersed employees, stifling their ability to get up and running remotely. On top of that, cybersecurity threats targeting remote workers are rising, underscoring the need for new cybersecurity protocols and training during this time of transition.
To reap the benefits of a remote workforce, agencies must first provision adequate VPN capacity and network infrastructure. With the right devices, software, and internet solutions in place, these agencies can join the league of organizations successfully navigating a remote landscape. Standardizing collaboration tools and cloud-based platforms can help further minimize barriers to success, fostering connection both within and between agencies.
Ongoing end-user training and support are also crucial. Agencies must ensure that their employees understand not only how to use remote tools, but how to use them securely. Comprehensive end-user training can help align employees around security protocols and keep cyber attackers at bay.
Support your Remote Teams
Though born of necessity, the sudden, seismic shift toward remote work has positively transformed organizations across industries. For the public sector specifically, this shift has led to a radical reconceptualization of how their employees operate and collaborate, allowing them to boost their productivity now and into the future. But despite the many benefits of a remote workforce, successfully navigating this new landscape can be challenging.
Joining forces with a remote IT support partner like Epiphany is the surefire way for government agencies to successfully implement new technology initiatives. We provide 24×7 onshore technical support, extensive training, and device lifecycle management solutions — all designed to meet the evolving, unique needs of public sector agencies. Contact us today to find out how we can increase your teams’ remote work success.