By John Greenstein, General Manager of Federal at Bluescape
As the Biden administration continues its push to bring more Federal employees back into the office, agencies are evaluating their return-to-work plans and how teleworking will continue to play a role.
According to the results of The Office of Personnel Management’s 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, federal workers’ engagement and satisfaction with their jobs has decreased from 2020. In an accompanied report, OPM predicted that some of the declines in engagement and satisfaction might be due to the fact that agencies were preparing – or had already begun – efforts to move Federal workers back to traditional work sites.
Whether the future of government work entails workers to be fully remote or in-office, it is clear more agencies are embracing a hybrid approach that gives employees the flexibility they want while still supporting vital in-person services. Of course, this trend creates its own unique demands in which agencies will need to secure tools and technology to support a mix of in-person and remote collaboration and engagement.
Below are five tips to help agencies ease the transition back in the coming months.
- Prioritize Flexibility by Reducing Communication Silos
Federal workstreams have an innate level of information silos and communication barriers. In order for employees to work productively from anywhere, workers need a single solution that gives them 360-degree visibility and access to multiple knowledge bases in one convenient location – providing a common operating picture regardless of location, agency, or department.
Look for an integrated collaboration tool to centralize workstreams and communication in a shared workspace. This empowers employees to collaborate on projects in real-time regardless of where they are working from, enabling better and faster decision-making.
- Do More With Less
Depending on the size of the workforce, the average business can deploy anywhere from 88 to175 applications. Nowhere is this concept more complicated than in the federal government, where the diversity of tools utilized is vast and varied.
Throughout the pandemic, employees struggled with switching between applications that left them with fragmented workflows and too many applications to maintain. Federal teams need advanced software that can enable secure real-time collaboration across multiple applications and physical locations rather than investing in different platforms that operate in isolation.
- Create Dynamic Workstreams and Feedback Loops
As the pandemic showed us, key decision-makers need to ideate, edit, and react to content and mission operations from any location, at any time, to enable work equity and productivity across all departments. A digital workspace boosts productivity, allowing teams to collaborate in a shared, virtual setting that works for their work situation and schedule.
- Reimagine Creativity for the 21st Century
When you think of a brainstorm, where does your mind go? If your first response is whiteboards, sticky notes, and handwritten ideas jotted down on a piece of paper, you’re not alone.
In order for creative ideas to develop into tangible outcomes, remote and hybrid teams need to collaborate as effectively as they once did when gathered together in the same room. They need the ability to brainstorm and capture their insights in tandem with the ability to visualize and discuss a diverse set of content. To accommodate the workforce of the future, federal agencies should look for cloud-based solutions that enable drawing and diagramming alongside sharing pixel-perfect images, videos, web content, and live data in a shared, virtual workspace.
- Instill Trust in Technology
Finally, when selecting any new Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor, agencies must ensure they meet Federal cybersecurity guidelines. This can include everything from NIST 800-171 and NIST cybersecurity framework compliance to good cyber hygiene practices and FedRAMP certification to enable safe and easy communication of information in any environment.
Agencies must also look for ways to cut down on the use of shadow IT and its inherent risks, including implementing a zero-trust infrastructure. Shadow IT typically occurs when employees’ needs aren’t being met by the technologies currently approved by their IT departments. By investing in a platform that fully supports the communication, collaboration, and content sharing needs of distributed teams, IT departments can cut down on the spread of shadow IT while meeting their clients’ needs.