Accept business transformation to plan future workplaces

This content is provided by EY.

When COVID first closed workplaces across the country, no one expected it to continue as long as it lasted. No one thought that things could continue to run for such a long time in such a remote environment. The Pentagon was once a child of posters for claiming that it couldn’t be done. Still, last month the Air Force announced that it would not return. It took only six months for the impossible to become terribly mediocre.

So what’s next? What will your future workspace look like?

Most organizations are already discussing hybrid work environments. In some cases, it seems that employees only come to the office a couple of days a week. Otherwise, it looks like the employee is choosing between home and office. Determining the needs and the best way to meet them really depends on the individual agency.

“I think it’s a really interesting opportunity for an organization to really think about what’s important in terms of their values, mission values, and culture, and then rethink their work from a future lens. What does their workplace and real estate footprint look like, and what are the norms and expectations about how people stay connected while working? And how do you maximize your time together? Do you want to limit it? ”Says Erica Ford, EY’s Head of Human Resources Advisory Services for the Government and Public Sector.

According to Ford, the first step in answering these questions is to reach a baseline with the leadership team. That doesn’t mean there is an answer. That means they are willing to ask new questions and challenge assumptions. If leadership is involved in it, what kind of work is being done, how much work needs to be physically present in the office, and how much work is to be accomplished. You need to know exactly if you need collaboration.

This should also be both top-down and bottom-up. Leadership needs to consider the perspective of the employee, but the technical needs and opinions of the employee cannot be ignored. They know better than anyone what it takes to get their job done.

And that leads to another question: how to make sure the work is actually done?

“One of the things we’ve seen is understanding the types of data available to an organization, which shows that employees are productive, not just keystrokes, but big brothers. The organization that drives that big brother’s culture will go against their values ​​and the way they work, “Ford said. “What is the indication of collaboration and connectivity? How do you measure true productivity?”

Agencies need to know their own indicators for this. In some cases, it can be as easy as tracking a call in a call center or a trouble ticket in a help desk. But how do you measure the productivity of policy analysts? Ford said it’s really important to ensure that your leadership understands performance management.

“For many organizations, performance management is something in general, especially in the government arena, which probably required a shakeout for years, but going offsite doesn’t necessarily mean performance. You don’t necessarily have to turn management upside down, but I think it needs to be evaluated, “Ford said. “There are right and wrong ways to manage people when they are invisible.”

Because she’s depressed or meeting employees at a meeting is the only way to make sure they’re working when her boss remotely monitors activity in real time and calls for a second productivity. He said he heard a horror story about scheduling meetings all day.

Organizations need to set productivity metrics that set very clear expectations and goals for their employees. The right balance of flexibility and authority allows employees to understand all the best ways to achieve these goals, under a well-defined communication mechanism. Provides follow-up and accountability.

As an innovative example of adopting telecommuting, Ford proposes to look to organizations that have already successfully adopted this type of hybrid model, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the General Procurement Bureau.

Second, from a people and process perspective, future workplace planning becomes a more important concern. Can I revalue real estate inventory? How do you reconfigure your workspace to strike a balance between efficiency and safety? How about your IT strategy? What kind of collaboration tools do you need to keep your employees productive? Does the network need an investment to be able to support these tools? Can intelligent automation be used to modify processes and adapt to new strategies? All of these questions should be considered within the unique context of each organization’s mission.

“After all, we’re talking about business transformation,” Ford said. “How do you work and continue to gain, based on all the great knowledge we have gained?”

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