Nov 03 2022

Hybrid Work Solutions Modernize Both Government Services and Workplaces

The former CIO of Elkhart County, Ind., sees a boost for citizens and the workforce through remote tools.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen nearly all of our critical industries move to hybrid models. A crowning example of this may be our school systems, which had to shift — practically overnight — to virtual learning models to keep our children’s education going. Hospitals turned to virtual care visits to limit the spread of dangerous viruses. Even manufacturers leveraged artificial intelligence and machine learning to limit the number of workers on the factory floor.

But what about our critical government agencies?

As CIO of Elkhart County, Ind., in 2020 I helped successfully leverage new technology to transform how our court system functioned in order to deliver equitable access to justice to our community. Now, as a government solutions architect for Cisco, I am helping to drive this change around the globe.

The way governments operate and deliver services has changed dramatically over the past two years, and the most important change has been the necessary adoption of hybrid work.

It’s no secret that a common complaint among the public was that government services were outdated, overly complicated and tedious. This lead to challenges in employee engagement. Adopting hybrid work models allows governments to establish an environment that is flexible, secure and attractive to the modern workforce while offering the public access to critical government services digitally — without needing to worry about transportation or time away from work or family.

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Connected Courtrooms Provide Enhanced Privacy

When the pandemic first hit, the judicial system came to a screeching halt. Social distancing made it difficult to conduct traffic court, divorce and family proceedings, or even to gavel trial juries. That’s all changed now.

Court systems, such as Elkhart County’s, introduced collaboration solutions to connect offenders to the courtroom from prisons without the need for physical transfers. The integrity of the constitutional judicial process could be maintained while adding a new element to the mix: enhanced privacy.

All hearings, trials and proceedings could now be securely streamed live, with evidence only shown to those who need to see it. Offenders, who are innocent until proven guilty, no longer have to wait in the public eye while shackled and wearing correctional uniforms. Perhaps most important, victims can testify from wherever they feel safe, surrounded by loved ones instead of strangers.

Government Employees Also Benefit from Collaborative Tools

Governments can be slow to leverage new technology, but in the face of adversity, agencies adapt and often lead other industries in new technology adoption. This is much more than just implementing a new collaboration solution; it requires a holistic approach that starts with securing and improving network infrastructure. This is the foundation of digital services and hybrid work.

After all, government services require a high degree of privacy that makes them a prime target for potential cyberattacks. This requires secure access, built around a zero-trust approach and powered by software-defined WAN technology for efficient application access. Additionally, multifactor authentication applications make sure the right people access the right documents from the right places.

EXPLORE: The audio and visual technology upgrades courthouses are making.

Once the network is secure and modern applications are leveraged, governments have the opportunity to attract new highly qualified candidates while also offering a work-life balance that traditionally hasn’t existed in this space. Having the flexibility to work remotely and adjust to personal events, such as having a sick family member, brings a human-centered approach to the workplace that contributes to employee loyalty.

A workforce that can be flexible and dynamic creates a culture that breaks down departmental silos, resulting in cross-agency collaboration and establishing highly unified operational efficiencies.

While we may be entering a new stage of the pandemic that sees a loosening of restrictions put in place to keep us safe, workplace adjustments and the modern work environment isn’t going anywhere. While we may be unlikely to see full juries sat virtually, elements of the judicial process will remain virtual. Other government functions, including city and county council meetings or even government-sponsored healthcare services, will continue to impact communities with lasting change through hybrid work.

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