The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the way we work and interact upside down and revealed the strongest case for urgency around IT modernization and enabling a work-from-anywhere federal workforce. Federal agencies that successfully embraced IT transformation to support modern work styles were able to pivot quickly when the pandemic made commuting to and working in offices unsafe. And all are evaluating implementing or expanding existing telework capabilities. The early results have been a testament to how well this can work, in a pandemic and beyond.
Agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offer a blueprint for agency agility as they were quickly able to transition their workforce to operate remotely. “Even with increased telework, the SEC remains able and committed to fully executing its mission on behalf of investors, including monitoring market function and working closely with other regulators and market participants,” said an SEC spokesman in a conversation with Federal News Network.
The SEC started notably moving towards a more remote work-friendly environment with its 2017 “telework effectiveness” project, which offered employees 17 additional telework training courses to ensure proficiency with the new technologies at their disposal. According to the Federal News Network article, about 91% of SEC employees used the agency’s time and attendance system to indicate telework participation in 2017, compared to 64% in 2016.” This concerted effort to enable telework among their employees was key in their ability to pivot when the pandemic required stay-at-home measures. They had laid the groundwork for 2+ years and were directly seeing the benefits of those efforts in an unprecedented time in history.
Other agencies may be struggling with this shift for various reasons, but if anything, the last couple of months have shown agencies that they can not only maintain continuity of operations with employees teleworking, but they can see even greater productivity than they ever expected.
“I can’t really say if [the increased productivity is] one specific thing or another,” Ryan Cote, CIO of the Transportation Department, said in an interview with Federal Times. “Whether it be people who commute from around D.C. who no longer have to spend hours in their car, or whether they’re more relaxed at home. … There’s no question that every employee at the Department of Transportation is more productive than ever.”
“Being forced to develop an entirely new work routine has caused everyone to re-think what is practical and possible for federal agencies,” stated Greg O’Connell, Senior Director, IC and FSI Sales, U.S. Federal at Nutanix, in an interview with Government Technology Insider. “The notion that working from home will diminish employee productivity is being challenged daily by the great success stories we’re seeing from multiple agencies.”
A global pandemic was not the impetus to IT modernization that people anticipated, but O’Connell urges federal managers to remain open to the way remote work technologies are fueling a new level of productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction across their teams. “Remote work, just like office work, is a team sport for managers and employees,” said O’Connell. “Everyone has a role to play, because just like working from home isn’t the same as working in the office, neither is leading a remote team. There are many best practices and do’s and don’ts to make it a great experience for everyone.”
Ramping up remote work environments does not need to be a landmark project. In fact, O’Connell noted that their customers are able to fully stand up a work-from-home setup, from purchase to installation, in anywhere from just a few hours to two weeks. That level of agility allows agencies to quickly test the waters in smaller ways, and scale more broadly once they are confident in the experience.
Learn more about how technology leaders like Nutanix help achieve this success here.