By Paul Bender, Global Public Sector Marketing
With agencies tasked with delivering a modernized, streamlined and ultimately more citizen facing federal government environment, the focus on staff productivity and working practices has never been so great.
Happily, and echoing moves already showing success in the private sector, the rapid evolution of workplace technology offers new and exciting opportunities for federal planners to inject greater levels of flexibility, mobility and cost saving strategies into wider workforce approaches. In fact, we don’t have to look too far into the future to see just how dramatic these changes may be on the daily routines of millions of public sector employees across the United States.
According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), nearly a quarter of all federal employees are eligible to retire in 2017. They’ll be replaced, for the most part, by younger generations of connected and tech-savvy workers with radically different life experiences, interests and expectations. And that’s if they’re replaced at all.
Undoubtedly, an evolving digital workplace offers tremendous opportunities to automate and streamline tasks – for example, the self-service, web-based options now available for citizens calling into contact centers. It’s not always possible, but being able to leverage technology to do more with fewer people is certainly an attractive cost option.
Then there’s the ongoing recruitment issue. If the eligible 25% of the federal workforce retire en mass, this will undoubtedly cause a major service delivery headache – one unlikely to be soothed in the shorter-term by job-for-job recruitment. And, of course, those states and counties already experiencing labor shortages will be the hardest hit.
Not only that, where are these new generations of federal workers going to sit? The ‘freeze the footprint’ targets of successive administrations means office space consolidation and agency co-locations are in the cards. And, of course, that means the pressure is on to support increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for employees.
The common denominator in all this is collaboration. Mobility and teleworking rely on it. Geographic and agency inter working requires it. And today’s (and tomorrow’s) social and connected workforce wants it. So this, in a nutshell, is what federal agencies need to deliver to get their departments working.
Addressing federal priorities
Increasing operational efficiency is a top priority in the face of budgetary pressures and constraints. Today’s federal agency IT decision-makers are looking to enable teleworking and accelerate productivity, making it possible for employees to locate and communicate with the people they seek in real-time and seamlessly share and collaborate at will.
But that’s not all. The core objectives are:
• Boosting team productivity. Making greater team collaboration across local, remote and distributed sites, without undue complexity or infrastructure investment.
• Enhancing teleworking. Delivering optimized and secure environments that support BYOD-enabled ‘anywhere working’ and home-based users.
• Initiating flexible digital workplaces. Attracting and retaining top talent with today’s organizations depends on offering leading edge tools and an intuitive user experience.
• Reducing costs. Eliminating unnecessary travel, facilities and communications costs via conferencing, remote workers and leveraging IP communication technologies.
• Promoting innovation. Introducing more agile service-orientated architectures that emphasize system interoperability and the ubiquitous availability of data – and enable new technologies to be leveraged rapidly.
Now, where do we start?