Organisations need to embrace the right IT solutions to meet the whole spectrum of evolving modern workforce needs in the public sector

Public sector employees play the vital role of providing essential support and services to society, As such, they require the right technological tools and solutions to be able to deliver their work effectively.

This need has recently taken on a new level of prominence: a study of public sector organisations discovered that 88.5% of civil servants are satisfied with remote and hybrid working arrangements and would like to continue working this way in the future.

The pace and shape of work have irrevocably changed.

Are organisations ready to support evolving workforce needs?

New research by Apogee has revealed that almost three-quarters (74%) of IT directors in public sector organisations lack confidence in their IT estate being able to support a hybrid workforce.

At the same time, almost seven-in-ten (69%) are not placing IT investment at the top of the priority list. With current solutions blocking reliable hybrid working networks and failing to meet the needs of the modern workforce, tech-savvy public sector employees are becoming increasingly frustrated by the inability to collaborate.

The consequence of this frustration is two-fold

On top of potential disruption to critical public services, talented individuals ultimately leave their organisations, while potential employees are being put off from applying. As the public sector contends with a range of pre-existing hurdles, such as tight budgets and skills shortages, the retention of talent is absolutely paramount.

Therefore, organisations need to embrace the right IT solutions to meet the whole spectrum of evolving modern workforce needs.

The digital divide between employees

Employee expectations are changing within the public sector. Once largely tied to traditional ways of working, staff are now reimagining their options following the post-pandemic shift to flexible and hybrid working practices.

Accordingly, the top expectation among the public sector workforce is the ability to collaborate effectively with technology (36%), on par with the need to work flexibly (36%).

Despite these clear employee priorities, the current IT setup within organisations is failing to measure up to demand. An overwhelming 93% of public sector IT directors (74%) say that effective collaboration is being prevented by weaknesses in their current IT estate, meaning that distributed workforces cannot effectively connect, share ideas, and work in teams. Furthermore, almost half (42%) admit that their remote workforce lacks the same access to technology solutions enjoyed by office workers.

This admission has large implications for the public sector workforce. With more and more employees seeking hybrid work arrangements as part of the ‘new normal’, remote workers are getting left behind, unable to unlock their potential due to inadequate technology. For organisations that do not prioritise investing in IT to support their hybrid workforce, the gap between office-based and remote employees will only widen.

London city with data and computer programming information mapped over the skyline
© Dan Talson

Cyber security challenges amongst remote workers

Remote workers are already at a disadvantage – but cyber security challenges bring a whole new set of obstacles for the modern workforce to overcome. Over a fifth (21%) of public sector organisations claim that both security and productivity challenges from remote and hybrid working are detrimental to their IT transformation progress, with 28% of IT directors reporting that employees fear a cyber breach when using sharing solutions.

This suggests that current technology stacks are failing to meet the needed standard, which is reinforced by the finding that just 14% of public sector organisations regard securing the hybrid/remote workforce as a top IT priority.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of organisations do not have endpoint security in place

As such, almost two-thirds (65%) of organisations do not have endpoint security in place, and even more (69%) are failing to encrypt their devices. A meagre 15% of public sector organisations have an end-of-life plan for their devices – a critical element in product lifecycle management and key to enhancing security amongst hybrid workforces.

These issues are particularly concerning as public sector organisations remain attractive targets for cyber criminals, with 40% of attacks in 2020-21 affecting the sector. In an increasingly IoT-driven world, unencrypted and end-of-life devices are popular avenues for malicious actors to make a profit.

The costs of frustration in the public sector

If remote and hybrid public sector workers continue to be frustrated by ineffective and inflexible technology, the costs to organisations could be dear.

Poor employee productivity and morale will only increase as staff struggle to effectively communicate and collaborate across the office-remote divide, whether due to faulty IT or cyber security concerns. This is likely to drive more skilled and talented people out of the public sector, adding to pre-existing problems such as increased IT downtime and slow resolution of issues.

This is likely to drive more skilled and talented people out of the public sector

Public sector organisations are also less likely to attract new talent if they cannot deliver the technology to support their hybrid working strategy. As a new generation of digital natives enters the workforce, the ability to provide the latest technology solutions to enhance flexible working will be a make-or-break for organisations. Talented prospective employees are unlikely to be won over by current offerings.

Ultimately, these frictions and frustrations could threaten the effective delivery of critical public services – making the need to transform even more urgent.

Solutions to power the modern workforce

To ensure the smooth running of essential public services – and support seamless communication and effective collaboration between office-based and remote employees – organisations must ensure they deliver the right IT solutions.

They can do this by embracing a more unified approach to the end-to-end management of all their assets.

Taking this approach will not only give them the scalability to ensure that all devices are consistently secure and operational from both the office and at home, but will also meet the evolving flexibility demands of the modern workforce.

The public sector now has an opportunity to implement collaborative IT tools and processes to meet employee needs and expectations, seamlessly integrating them into current workflows to enhance productivity. With the appropriate technologies in place, public sector employees will be empowered to provide vital services while organisations take steps to increase staff recruitment and retention.

Regardless of whether an organisation outsources its managed IT or keeps it in-house, it is imperative that the sector invests in the right technology solutions to meet the evolving and wide-ranging needs of the modern workforce. Doing so will help to establish the public sector as an attractive long-term option for work, supporting the effective delivery of indispensable public support and services.

This piece was written and provided by Gary Day, Group Director for Public Sector, Apogee Corporation


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