The Evolution of Remote Work: Opportunities and Challenges Facing State and Local Governments

The shift to remote work is both benefiting and challenging state and local governments.

State and local governments have allowed their employees to work remotely to varying degrees for years, although their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically accelerated the necessity to modernize remote work policies and procedures.

Public sector employees typically accustomed to accessing physical resources in an office environment are now making the transition to working from home. This rapid transition has proven to be both beneficial and challenging for state and local agencies.

In the coming weeks, CompTIA’s State, Local and Education (SLED) Committee and the Human Services IT Advisory Group (HSITAG) will explore the need to address both the immediate and long-term challenges of moving to remote work.

The pandemic has thrown a massive spotlight on the need for state and local systems to modernize. The most apparent has been the overly taxed Unemployment Insurance systems across the country. Many states have been forced to respond quickly with varying degrees of success. While the focus has largely been on Unemployment Insurance systems, there will be secondary and tertiary impacts because of increased demand placed on downstream services such as re-employment services, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefit systems. Similarly, there will be downstream effects to moving state and local employees who support these critical services to remote work.

While the initial challenge in the early stages of the pandemic were necessarily focused on the physical challenge of migrating an unprecedented number of government employees to work from home and supporting the move by procuring enough hardware and network capability, the secondary impacts will largely focus on the need to increase cloud adoption, secure new network vulnerabilities, and adopt policies that promote effective and efficient remote work environments.

Many state and local governments have begun to grapple with evaluating the cost of continuing to operate physical office space against the benefit of maintaining a remote workforce. While there are costs to moving employees to full or part-time remote work, many are asking themselves if the benefits truly outweigh those of maintaining physical offices.

Each state will need to determine this for themselves, but there seems to be consensus that all states will see a sustained need to increase remote work opportunities both for business continuity purposes and to meet an increased demand by employees to work from home.  If state and local governments wish to be successful in continuing to provide remote work opportunities to employees, the same level of criticality that was applied during the initial months of the pandemic needs to be continued to solve network capabilities, security vulnerabilities, and policy issues in a timely manner.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will explore the need to adopt cloud solutions both during a crisis and beyond as well as addressing security vulnerabilities that can be exacerbated by moving to remote work but also mitigated if the correct actions are taken.

For questions or additional information, contact Liam Crawford at lcrawford@comptia.org.

Email us at blogeditor@comptia.org for inquiries related to contributed articles, link building and other web content needs.

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