In the early weeks and months of agencies transitioning to remote work, many saw it as a temporary work arrangement to quickly adapt to the global pandemic.
“But now that remote work has become more common, it’s no longer an event,” said Linda Misegadis, Public Sector Business Consulting Director at UKG. “It’s the way that we are doing work, and adapting to this shift requires a new mindset and clear policies to support this change.”
Misegadis, who previously worked in local government, personally knows the balancing act that public servants are juggling — from compliance and cybersecurity standards to new challenges as employees manage professional and personal responsibilities in light of COVID-19.
Part of what makes government unique is public scrutiny. Every government has transparency and accountability requirements.
Misegadis’ work sits at the intersection of IT and human resources — currently two of the busiest departments at many agencies. Her team’s focus is providing digital workforce management solutions for government agencies at all levels, and Misegadis sees a demand for these cloud-based options.
So what should agencies prioritize when using software to simplify managing a remote workforce? She highlighted three areas:
1. Ease of Access
Many organizations had to rethink their continuity of business plans, including onboarding and offboarding employees, performance reviews, employee benefits, time and attendance, and other routine activities.
In many cases, paper dominated these tasks, but agencies don’t have the luxury of physically pushing paper anymore. Making documents and processes accessible to all employees, regardless of location, must be a priority.
In response to the pandemic, Misegadis has seen a greater interest in automated human capital management solutions that she’s hopeful will take root.
Compliance requirements aren’t confined to office walls.
For example, policies that govern how employees dispose of documents, handle sensitive information, protect access to their laptops and track work hours are especially critical in a remote environment. Even employees with the best intentions can find themselves out of compliance.
“When working from home, suddenly that responsibility shifts to the employee, and employees need to be educated on proper processes and have documented policies in place,” Misegadis said. Having an automated way to track, enforce and educate the workforce around these policies helps take the guesswork out of managing a remote workforce.
3. Education and Training
As software-based services become more commonplace, so will the need for training. That’s true whether employees are using new applications or accessing the same technology outside the office.
“You have to decide how that remote training is going to occur and on which platform,” Misegadis said. “The other side of this discussion is training and educating supervisors on how to manage a remote workforce that they can’t see regularly.”
Remote work is unlikely to completely go away any time soon. Technology is what enables government organizations to continue serving the public without interruption.