There are still unknowns about what government operations will look like going forward, but one thing is certain: This new normal won’t be a mirror image of what we experienced pre-COVID-19.
What that means and how those changes manifest will differ by agency. “The time is now to start the conversation with leadership about what policies, culture and workplace practices will be,” said Sonny Hashmi, Managing Director, Global Government at Box.
Hashmi and his team have played an integral role in helping agencies such as the Agriculture Department implement secure, cloud-based tools in a matter of days; employees couldn’t wait months in the midst of a pandemic. Having access to digital workflows, document sharing and signatures were critical for the remote workforce to continue supporting customers who could no longer visit service centers but still needed help.
Maybe your agency is making similar adjustments to ensure business continuity. Either way, all agencies should be preparing for the future while prioritizing the issues outlined below.
1. Prioritize security
“The one constant is that security is priority,” Hashmi said. “Personally identifiable information and national security information cannot be compromised.”
That was easier said than done as massive amounts of employees began working remotely. “Agencies don’t have control over home infrastructure, which is a big challenge,” he said.
But the cloud-based model for security is changing that paradigm by securely connecting employees to government resources. “The capabilities are more robust, secure and compliant with government requirements, and there are a lot of use cases to prove it,” Hashmi said.
2. Start taking action
Now is not the time to develop a five-year plan that collects dust on the shelf or that might be obsolete within months. Instead, Hashmi recommends taking small steps toward the future today.
“A lot of these collaboration technologies and cloud platforms may not have been mission-critical before, but now they are,” he said. For one, some people who may never return to the office. They will need digital tools to continue working.
The same is true on the customer side. For Chris Tonjes, Chief Information Officer for Washington, D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General, moving operations online was critical for continuity during the pandemic. There was pent up demand from people who wanted access to digital forms, so moving business processes online was a welcomed change.
3. Keep users’ needs top of mind
“Increasingly, citizens and employees will expect to work in new ways,” Hashmi said. “Supporting them will require a reprioritization of investments by moving dollars away from traditional IT projects to cloud-based options.”
This shift can help agencies reduce the total cost of ownership for IT investments and long-term operations and maintenance costs — freeing them up to meet future needs for employees and customers.
When you prioritize security and users’ needs to take meaningful actions, you position your agency to be responsive and adaptable to change. Ultimately, preparing your operations for a post-COVID-19 world means embracing a digital mindset, new policies and new ways of working that put people first.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Agile for Everyone: How to Improve Everyday Work Processes.” Download the full guide here.