Attitudes About the Future of Work Have Dramatically Changed

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Now it’s time to embrace hybrid work and enhance mission performance. 

Leaders today across industries and organizations now believe that hybrid work is the “new normal,” according to a new Hybrid Work Global Survey by Riverbed | Aternity.  Of the leaders surveyed, 83% believe that at least a quarter of their workforces will continue to work remotely in the future, a dramatic increase from the 30% who expressed that view in a comparable survey in mid-2020.  

The hybrid workforce—mixing telework and in-person presence— has become an expectation and it's also now critical to delivering services and carrying out the business of government.

Successful hybrid work transitions can provide significant and measurable benefits, from improving flexibility, collaboration and recruiting to bolstering productivity and long-term mission effectiveness. As federal agencies work to attract talent and better deliver on their missions, federal IT leaders understand the need to keep their proverbial foot on the modernization gas pedal. 

This understanding is evidenced in the finding that 80% of public sector organizations are accelerating their digital transformation strategies, including increasing software-as-a-service and cloud adoption. Across the board, decision-makers cite the drastic, pandemic-driven changes to operations as prime reasons why they are accelerating digital transformations. They’re responding to an exponential increases in demand from end-users and citizens alike for digital services and virtual interactions. 

To meet that demand, they are transferring their workloads, applications and infrastructure to the cloud at greater speed. In doing so, they’re also enabling and supporting a remote workforce with the capabilities and technology solutions that are now deemed essential.  

The survey, which was conducted in September, captured responses from 750 business and government leaders and 738 IT leaders in the United States and eight other countries, with participants being crystal clear on their views of hybrid work. 

"The pandemic has also been a catalyst for workplace transformation,” the report’s authors noted. “Impelled by how quickly employees adapted to virtual environments, productivity gains, and substantial cost savings, organizations are now very comfortable with employees working remotely and believe there are many benefits to adopting a hybrid work model."

Hybrid work has revolutionized recruiting in government.

More than 94% of public sector workers surveyed agree that hybrid work helps expand the pool of recruits and keep organizations competitive. In addition, this could potentially increase diversity in the workforce since location may no longer be a hiring barrier. Some 85% agree that hybrid work will have a lasting and positive impact on communities at a global scale. 

Reimagining the ways agencies operate can help make staffs and structures more adaptable to change. In turn, improved adaptability helps teams and departments develop, grow and improve in delivering services and meeting needs. Putting leaders in a position to be more flexible in focusing on the human element of personnel needs promotes sustainable productivity. Moreover, it fosters a work culture offering better morale, greater efficiency and an atmosphere that’s more conducive to attracting and retaining talent.

Organizations need a reliable and secure digital experience, no matter where their teams are based. 

While the new hybrid work environment brings benefits, it also has created challenges.  Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said that having the visibility they need into their IT networks is now more difficult. Both decision-makers and IT managers said the multiple tools they use for monitoring and visibility often provide conflicting data, making it difficult to determine root causes of issues and resolve them.  Another contributing issue is the siloed nature of IT organizations. Each technology tier (network, application, cloud, server, database, storage, etc.) may be managed by a different team, each with their own set of monitoring tools. 

Agency leaders need to break down technological silos—including those that limit comprehensive, cross-domain visibility and monitoring, and invest in visibility solutions that convert data into actionable insights that strengthen decision-making, troubleshooting and threat-hunting across teams. 

According to the survey, 86% of public sector respondents are investing in these capabilities to meet these hybrid workforce requirements with visibility that extends from the on-premises network at headquarters to individual devices—and the resulting performance, productivity and insights can truly enrich government services. 

When systems, digital services and SaaS applications operate at peak performance, so do employees and agencies. By prioritizing end-to-end visibility to bolster IT and network performance and optimize digital experiences, agencies get unified observability that provides a single, data-backed source of truth. In turn, leaders can be more confident in the information they’re using to make decisions and execute the mission—and IT operators can transform into technology leaders who can deliver value to the team and the mission.

In terms of the barriers and challenges to successfully operating in this new hybrid work environment, both IT managers and decision-makers said increased IT security risks were a top challenge, as well as poor home/remote network performance issues and the possibility of technical disruptions.  The main difference between the two groups was that business decision makers ranked employee and end-user motivation and well-being as a barrier to success in the new hybrid work environment, while perhaps not surprisingly, IT leaders were less concerned about that issue. 

It’s clear that identifying and investing in the right digital systems that meet agency- and mission-specific needs can provide tangible results. Organizations that implement compelling technology solutions as a strategic element in meeting objectives will empower their teams—accelerating performance, sharpening knowledge and boosting productivity and morale. As an added bonus, taxpayers benefit from all of these improvements.

Marlin McFate is the chief technology officer of U.S. Public Sector for Riverbed | Aternity.

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