Do a 'Unified Workspace' and Mobility Mix?

Report offers thoughts on creating a cohesive environment amid telework and BYOD.

Federal agencies increasingly are looking to allow employees to work on any device, at any location and at any time. A new report by GovLoop and Cisco touts the benefits of creating a unified workspace and provides some recommendations as agencies implement bring your own device, or BYOD, strategies, virtualization and remote access.

Michael Rau, vice president and CTO of borderless network architecture at Cisco, offered his expertise in the report to help agencies understand how the “unified workspace,” which allows employees to work anywhere, anytime and on any device, can meet the complex demands of the federal workforce.

Rau noted five benefits for federal agencies in moving to a unified workspace: providing a scalable and secure infrastructure; creating a work environment consistent with modern workplace trends; increasing organizational efficiency and productivity; attracting top talent by allowing employees to work on the device of their choice; and seamlessly integrating chat, voice, video and collaboration software to enable employees to feel easily connected with co-workers.

Still, despite these benefits, agencies often create conflicting and fragmented strategies in order to encourage adoption of emerging trends, Rau noted. “What we see a lot is a customer trying to respond to a demand in a very tactical way, without having a clear line of sight to the strategic workspace environment they are trying to create in the future,” Rau said in the report.

A recent survey by GovLoop found that 79 percent of federal employees believe BYOD and mobility options could have a positive impact on employee satisfaction, productivity and engagement. Still, it is clear that government work environments are complex, with some employees requiring secure mobile access, laptops, government-issued phones or the ability to work in a tightly provisioned workspace. Developing new IT policies and overcoming cultural barriers also pose challenges, the report noted.

To overcome these barriers, Rau recommended that agencies define the unified workspace as an IT discipline, engage the end user and develop and IT roadmap and strategy for the agency.

Moving to a unified workspace will pay off for agencies, particularly when it comes to preparing for the emerging workforce. “As new employees enter the workforce, there are certain technologies that talented prospective employees expect to have in the workplace, especially in terms of collaboration services and choices of devices,” the report stated. “For the public sector, a rich and robust IT infrastructure is now part of the equation to draw and retain talent.”