Government Will Need to Innovate to Sustain Remote Work

Woman writing a note in a notebook.
Remote work is no longer for the few.

2020 marked the year when working remotely became a necessity. And, once the pressures keeping workers home lift, remote working is likely to remain part of government employment. However, this creates a pressing need for government innovation to protect what’s now a fragmented system with multiple cracks attackers can lever open.

Why Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

There are a number of reasons governments won’t be summoning all their employees back to the office on a permanent basis.

  • Logistics: The COVID-19 pandemic will not immediately vanish in the wake of a vaccine. Workers will be vaccinated in stages based on need and personal circumstances. Some may not be able to be vaccinated at all. That means a phased return to the office is more likely. Post-COVID, this flexibility will mean it will be easier to deploy workers in the field, which opens new opportunities for public service.
  • Family Care: Those with small children, elderly relatives, or family members who live with them to be cared for have found a silver lining in the removal of a commute. The pressures of an at-home workplace make this part of their lives easier to fit into. As more workers care for elderly parents, that will only become more pressing.
  • Emissions: In a bizarre silver lining, the sudden drop in commuting and travel has meant the US will hit its climate emissions goals. Governments are unlikely to want to undo this progress.

The result is a so-called “hybrid” model where workers will come into the office a few times a week and work remotely the rest. But this presents challenges to be overcome with government innovation.

Taking notes.
Remote work is here to stay.

The Challenges of Remote Work and Cybersecurity

As the remote work forced experiment has unfolded, a few challenges have become clear.

  • Differing Connections: Instead of one network controlled by an IT administrator, there are as many networks as employees, all with different speeds, security measures, and equipment to be managed.
  • Policy Concerns: IT policies are easy to enforce when the equipment is standard issue. But what if a person has to use their own tools to log into the system? Does that conform to policy? What if the employee handles secure data? Does their home conform to necessary policy requirements?
  • Skill Levels: Some workers know their devices thoroughly and have no trouble working with complex encryption software and safety protocols. Others do not.
  • Equipment Support: If something breaks, who fixes it, and how?

The more efficiently and easily government employees can do their jobs, the better off both they and the ultimate stakeholder, the citizen, are. Similarly, every employee is different, so those needs should be balanced. One employee’s crucial benefit may be another one’s nice-to-have, but not necessary.

This is why government innovation is crucial. It gathers everyone’s voice, allows sharing and discussion, and ensures each person is heard and understands why a step is taken. It’s clear that the future of work, public and private, will look very different going forward. It should be up to those who need those changes most to determine how they’re implemented. To learn more about government innovation, contact us.

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