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Addressing Government Employees' Collaboration Needs
The same trends that have reshaped private sector collaboration over the last several years: remote work, growing use of video conferencing, and AI, are also reshaping collaboration for the public sector. However, Metrigy’s research shows that governments at all levels; local, state, and federal; face unique challenges and requirements.
Like most organizations, the government response to the Covid pandemic was to transition from in-office to remote work. More recently, many US government organizations have moved more aggressively to bring employees back to the office on a part or full-time basis. In February of 2023 the US House of Representatives passed the SHOW UP Act, requiring government agencies to go back to 2019 telework policies, thus ending remote work for much of the US Federal workforce. The Senate has not yet acted on this bill, but is considering its own telework reform bill, also designed to bring government workers back to the office. Back in September of this year, the Biden Administration joined the effort, advising Cabinet officials to push for remote work reduction.
These efforts are driven by a variety of factors including improving interpersonal relationships, making use of existing office space, and bringing dollars back into areas hard hit by the loss of commuters.
Some state governments, including in my home state of Virginia, have joined in on the effort to curtail remote work. Metrigy’s research data shows that nearly 59% of government agency participants in our Workplace Collaboration: 2023-24 study planned to require full-time in-office work in the future, with almost 12% requiring at least part-time in-office work.
The accelerating trend in government to bring employees back to the office has significant implications for communications and collaboration strategies. Networks are likely to be strained as video utilization is at much higher levels than before the pandemic. Employees will demand high quality experiences through the availability of personal and meeting room audio and video devices. And agencies will have to enable capabilities such as digital whiteboards and multiple in-room cameras to ensure that those who are still remote are able to fully participate in meetings and collaborative sessions.
Security and Compliance
Government agencies (and contractors) typically operate under very different rules than private sector companies, including those in regulated industries like financial services and healthcare. Government requirements may include preservation of documents to support Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (or state-level equivalents). Federal agencies may only be able to use platforms that meet government information protection requirements such as FedRAMP (at various levels). The use of cloud services may be restricted. And rapidly emerging AI-powered capabilities for improving collaboration and customer service may not be available. Internationally, governments may require that their cloud data remain resident within their home country.
These restrictions often limit the speed at which government agencies can deploy new technologies that may already be available in the private sector. Agencies have a special duty to ensure that employees do not go around security and compliance requirements and use non-approved software applications.
At the same time, as new collaborative capabilities enter the government landscape, those responsible for compliance and platform management must ensure that they are able to meet regulatory requirements for newly deployed collaboration applications. This may mean ensuring the same sort of retention and availability for chats, meeting recordings and transcripts, and AI-generated summaries as is currently in place for email, messaging, and document collaboration.
Those responsible for communications, collaboration, customer engagement, and employee experience in the public sector have a unique set of needs and requirements that they must meet while also striving to improve internal and external collaboration and engagement. As you evolve your workplace to support a return to the office, also ensure that you remain compliant with all relevant regulations as you also expand your collaboration capabilities.
Join me at WebexOne on Thursday, October 26 from 11:45 - 12:15 for “Innovative solutions for government” where we’ll share insights to help government organizations navigate rapidly changing collaboration environments.
About Metrigy: Metrigy is an innovative research and advisory firm focusing on the rapidly changing areas of workplace collaboration, digital workplace, digital transformation, customer experience and employee experience—along with several related technologies. Metrigy delivers strategic guidance and informative content, backed by primary research metrics and analysis, for technology providers and enterprise organizations.