2020 proved to be a year of rapid change and expansion when it came to the management of remote workers in the state and local government arena.

While the key focus on cybersecurity and network safety will remain paramount in 2021, ongoing remote work will present opportunities for training, awareness building and collaboration.

Much of the enhanced collaboration capabilities will come in the form of digitized solutions that will streamline teleworking and allow government employees to remain efficient and effective – from any location.

Mandatory teleworking policy extensions will also most likely remain in place throughout 2021, which will present opportunities for agencies to further shift into a more dynamic future of remote work.

In addition, with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, most agencies will likely develop work policies that are best suited for their environments -- with the hybrid office/remote option being the most popular.

And, employees want a hybrid work environment. According to a December 2020 Gensler survey of 10,000 office workers around the globe, more than half of the respondents prefer the flexibility of working from home, but still value their time in the office.

Thankfully, many government employees already have a high comfort level for remote working, and the next 12 months will be about optimizing how agencies operate.

What the Future of Work Will Look Like

The future of work for state and local agencies will take a page from 2020, but with even more expanded digitized solutions for creating a seamless government employee experience.

Whether it's for the hiring and onboarding of employees, ongoing project collaboration or employee reviews, maximum productivity will come from using tools and platforms such as DocuSign, Slack and Zoom. HR will be the facilitator of this new hybrid horizon of digitally enhanced work.

This will also require a complete revamping of HR policies around remote work -- from hiring to onboarding to acceptable user agreements, and even reconfiguring office layouts to determine who gets full-time desks and offices.

Critical Role of Human Resources in 2021

Historically, government HR executives were known for managing compliance documents, moving applicant resumes along, and maintaining personnel files.

In the future of work, HR will also serve as the guides for acquiring and maintaining the right employee engagement tools to developing usage policies around video conferencing to automating all processes and paperwork.

In addition, government offices may require that their employees are vaccinated before they return to the office. With this in mind, HR will likely be the custodians of tracking and managing all of the employee vaccination records.

In terms of innovations, the streamlining of communications through bulk email distribution, SMS, digital employee training, and self-service access to wellness resources will all come into the forefront.

New HR automation processes will also make it easier for communicating with and managing remote workforces. Modern tools can automate steps in common HR workflows, minimizing the amount of human time needed and reducing room for human error.

Integrating tools like DocuSign eSignature into existing HR systems will save staff time getting employee agreements sent and signed.

This solution takes care of generating, sending, signing, and managing documents like offer letters and employee handbooks. DocuSign’s PowerForms feature also further eliminates preparation time, enabling agencies to more easily turn around pre-built templates. It also provides an added layer of security, and the ability to protect Personally identifiable Information (PII), and offers the ability to verify a signer’s government ID for faster remote onboarding.

The Future of Work is Now

In 2020, state and local agencies did a tremendous job of pivoting towards remote working and digital citizen engagement – in ways that will have a lasting impact on mission success.

Moving forward, the next 12 months will be a time where HR will have the opportunity to shape an even-more digitized and streamlined work environment. This will also include leading office reopening efforts, potentially being the custodians of immunization records and helping employees to embrace a new hybrid work culture.

Ultimately, we will see a more efficient and effective government where employees are truly empowered with innovation to work from any location.

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