We are now more than two years into COVID and fluctuating regulations that affect how we work show no sign of letting up. The arrival of COVID has completely overhauled the way we work and do business. Most of us have adapted, but there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of work.
Hybrid working environments appear to be the new norm for the foreseeable future. There’s a lot of hype surrounding remote and hybrid working models in companies across the private sector. Most companies are embracing the transition as gracefully as possible as part of their digital transformation strategy.
But what about organizations in the public sector?
The Public Sector is Going Hybrid Too
Like their private sector peers, many public sector employees have also had to switch to remote or hybrid working models during the pandemic.
According to the 2020 American Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, 59% of the federal workforce worked remotely during the peak of the pandemic, and 47% continued to work remotely through the end of 2020. That is a significant jump from the 22% who reported working remotely before the pandemic in 2019.
And it’s not just federal employees, employees throughout the public sector have found themselves in a similar situation.
Though employees in both the private and public sectors have been equally affected, companies in the private sector seem to be more comfortable with, if not enthusiastic about the possibility of permanent hybrid working models – but does that same enthusiasm extend to employers in the public sector?
The Return to Work
Over the summer, the Biden administration announced the return-to-work guidelines for American federal agencies, which explicitly support flexible and remote-work arrangements throughout the duration of the pandemic and beyond.
Though not all public sector employees are guaranteed flexibility thanks to government guidelines, many public sector employers may also choose to extend their COVID era remote and hybrid working models into the future.
After 2+ years of constant upheaval, many public sector employees have settled into the new remote working norm, and are not likely to give up the flexibility so easily.
This amounts to a major shift in workplace culture for the public sector, which has traditionally not been very flexible or open to remote working. This lack of experience may make employers in the public sector particularly apprehensive about embracing a long term hybrid model for their employees.
A Shift in Culture
Many public sector employers are long-established traditional institutions that are not quick to change their modus operandi. Their uncertainty is certainly understandable. But while public sector employers may be apprehensive about how a hybrid working model may affect the organization’s culture, they should also consider how it benefits it.
Employees have reported substantial benefits of remote working, which will continue to fuel the demand for hybrid models into the future.
Benefits of Hybrid-Working Models for Public Sector Employees:
- Better Work-Life Balance: Hybrid-working models tend to include more flexible schedules, so employees can choose to work when it is most suitable for them.
- Location Independence: Remote working options open up more work possibilities for potential candidates who can work from anywhere.
- Money Savings: People who work from home can save substantially on transport costs, a professional wardrobe, lunches and other associated work costs.
- Environmental Impact: Thanks to energy saved on office utilities, paper, gas, etc. remote employees reduce their carbon footprint.
- Customizable Office: Employees working from home can customize their office to suit their individual needs – decreasing distraction and improving productivity.
- Time Savings: Remote and hybrid employees spend considerably less time commuting to work or stuck in traffic -- saving time, money, and stress.
- Childcare Savings: Parents who work from home can save substantially on costs spent on childcare and spend more time with their children.
With a little faith in your employees, and with the right management approach, all of these benefits stand to significantly improve both employee wellbeing and productivity. That alone is of great benefit to any employer, but there are also many additional benefits of hybrid working that public sector employers stand to gain.
Benefits of Hybrid-Working Models for Public Sector Employers:
- Better Recruitment: Remote working options dissolves geographical limitations and opens up positions to a larger pool of candidates.
- Improved Inclusivity: Thanks to a larger pool of candidates, employers are able extend positions to areas that can increase diversity in the workforce.
- Increased Retention: Hybrid work gives employees the flexibility they insist on, improving retention rates.
- Money Savings: Employers can save big on utilities and resources needed to sustain a fully-staffed physical office space.
- Reduces Absenteeism: Costly absenteeism can be reduced by a hybrid working model.
- Environmental Impact: Thanks to energy saved on office utilities, paper, employee transport, and the reduction of waste produced in the office, employers can greatly reduce their carbon footprint.
- Real Estate Costs: Employers can save on expensive real estate costs for underutilized office space.
- Continuity of Operations: Flexible schedules and employees working in different time zones can allow an organization to extend their hours.
- Improved Workforce Wellbeing: Hybrid working models significantly reduce stress levels on the workforce, improving employee wellbeing.
- Increased Productivity: Flexible schedules, increased employee wellbeing, and the use of a good time keeping system all help to increase productivity.
Public sector employers would be ill-advised to ignore the potential benefits that hybrid working environments can provide. But even despite the benefits, many employers are still worried about how to effectively manage a hybrid workforce.
Oftentimes, it’s due to concerns about employee productivity that slows down the momentum of remote working in the workplace -- especially in the public sector. And yet increased productivity is actually one of the benefits of a hybrid workforce.
So why the dissonance?
A lack of trust in the value of remote working may be due to a lack of knowledge about resources that can help implement and manage it. Many public sector employers, especially those with no experience with remote working, are likely unaware of the extensive kit of digital tools available at their disposal.
Empowering the Public Sector with Digital Solutions
COVID has really helped us push the limits of what we can do with technology in the workplace. These tools have not only been helpful for supporting remote and hybrid working environments, but they can also be used to manage in-office employees more effectively as well.
Digital HR tools for things like recruitment, engagement, onboarding, and people analytics have become incredibly popular as employers look to leverage solutions that can help them more effortlessly navigate their new working environment.
One valuable tool which has proven to be essential to employers is employee monitoring software.
With the help of computer tracking software for business, public sector employers receive actionable data insights on their workforce that can help them better engage with and manage both remote and in-office employees.
For hybrid working models digital resources like Insightful’s tracking app for employees can help level the playing field between remote and in-office employees, which results in a more seamless working environment. Both remote and in-office employees can be provided with data insights into their productivity which they can use to support daily performance and professional growth.
Empower Your Workforce with Insightful
The public sector plays an essential role in economic growth and development through the creation and expansion of infrastructure. On top of that, the public sector remains extremely important as a major job creator.
According to the Worldwide Bureaucracy Indicators, globally the public sector accounts for around 25% of GDP and 38% of formal employment. That’s a significant chunk.
Over the years, the public sector has increasingly had to achieve more with fewer resources, so it's more important than ever for public sector employers to understand how to maintain and improve their services without racking up more costs.
Insightful can help. Thanks to features which provide visibility on employee app and website usage, idle vs active time, time and attendance, and productivity levels, Insightful is so much more than just a worker tracking system.
Take a look at all the value Insightful employee time tracking software can bring your organization:
- Improve Employee Productivity: By providing employees with the flexibility they demand, employees are able to work more efficiently.
- Identifies Struggles and Internal Problems: Thanks to improved visibility, Insightful’s analytics makes it much easier to identify and remedy potential problems in the organization.
- Simplifies Remote Management: Insightful data insights level the playing field for in-office and remote employees and can help managers understand how to better engage with their teams and ensure employees are productive.
- Promotes Diversity: Insightful offers insights into your workforce that can help with diversity Initiatives.
- Customizable: Insightful can be tailored to follow the organizational structure of any company. Management can customize the solution to get productivity reports of individual employees as well as teams.
- Better Transparency: Insightful time tracking software for employees provides transparency into employee activity, so employers have a better grasp of employee workload.
Curious how this actually looks in the public sector workplace?
Find out how the Housing Authority of Bergen County (HABC) was able to leverage Insightful employee monitoring software to tackle challenges as their team grappled with accountability, timesheets and proving to their board that being productive is possible when working from home.