The Big Shift: Remote Work in State and Local Government.

In 2020, the public-sector was forced out of public buildings and remote work was critical in keeping government services available to constituents. Now, many are asking, “What happens post-pandemic and is remote work here to stay?

Rapid transformation is an ambitious goal in the public-sector, however, in March of 2020, there was little choice when the pandemic closed state and local government offices and public-sector employees were sent home. It is safe to say that many departments across the state had not yet implemented the necessary tools or established the policies that would enable remote work. But, in the last 16 months, there are many examples in the public-sector that would suggest that remote work is not only possible, but also has the potential to save taxpayers money.

In a recent report produced by Global Workplace Analytics, it was estimated that government-wide half-time telework could result in huge cost reductions and an estimated $1.7 Billion in real estate savings.

In addition, the survey suggested the following.

  • Telecommuters voluntarily give back about 50% of the time they would have otherwise spent commuting (in government, that amounts to about 30 minutes of additional productivity per day)
  • They save 35 minutes per day due to unwanted distractions (50 minutes/day in government).
  • They are more highly engaged—a factor that Gallup research shows can increase productivity by 17% (81 minutes/day)

Kiefer clients shift quickly to remote work.

In March, Kiefer had to work closely with clients to institute models that would allow us to continue delivering for our clients. We had several active projects, and some of the projects had an on-site component. We had to introduce our clients to new tools (like Microsoft Teams and SharePoint) and establish processes that would allow us to work on projects with little interruption. These tools were familiar to our delivery teams but were new to many organizations that were more comfortable with e-mail, traditional Microsoft Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel), and paper. As consultants, our team helped many organizations reimagine how work could be done in the public-sector.

During this time, we offered free consultations that were designed to assist the public-sector in quickly transitioning to governing remotely. Many clients needed assistance in deploying Teams and automating processes that were typically performed in an office. As organizations find themselves 16 months into supporting a remote work, some organizations are dealing with the fallout of not implementing policies and governance related to the tools and platforms that are supporting remote and distributed workforces. Kiefer has the experience in expertise that is required to help in addressing the unanticipated challenges of supporting remote work on a longer-term basis.

Is remote work here to stay? We think so.

While it is unclear how the State of California will move forward with the return to work plan or hybrid work strategy, an email from Eraina Ortega of CalHR has encouraged state department directors to, “think about how we can effectively and fairly manage staff, regardless of where they work.”

We have seen the power of digital transformation and watched the public-sector demonstrate that there are many jobs in state service that can be done remotely. It is important to note, these jobs require that employees have the tools, software, and infrastructure in order to effectively do their job. This is where Kiefer comes in. We make recommendations that can help in modernizing the workplace enabling a remote or distributed workforce.

Banner for a free Kiefer eBook called the Indispensable Tools of the Modern Workplace

The true potential for remote work within state government was unrealized until the pandemic, now it has become apparent that the public-sector should be prepared not only to adapt, but also thrive if work is forced off-site. We are currently working with clients to align infrastructure, help automate legacy paper-based processes (digital business transformation), and establish governance and policies around critical business information.

With the right approach to remote work, many public-sector organizations can realize the benefits of remote work and come out of the pandemic stronger and more flexible than ever before.


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