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Evaluating the Remote Work Environment

I think overall government customers are feeling very productive today, if they have the right tooling in place. If you had collaborative software in place, that was much easier for you to make that migration. If they didn't have that tooling in place, or if even they didn't have laptops in place, it was definitely a challenge at first.

Workforce Trends

I think that there’s always been a really hard balance to strike between innovation and security. I think that moving to an entirely remote work environment has really melded the two, and …brought to light the need to make sure that you can be innovative, you can be new, but you can still put an emphasis on secure delivery as well.

As we’ve heard many times over the last nine or so months, the shift to remote work across government has gone probably better than expected.

Agency chief information officers and other executives have told numerous stories about how they have improved their network capacity and log in capabilities in record time to make remote working successful.

We’ve heard about the culture change that has happened at agencies that were not big fans of telework, and we’ve seen the broad acceptance of video teleconference capabilities.

Now many agencies are considering permanent telework positions. Take the Immigration and Customs Enforcement directorate at DHS. They are advertising some positions that are 100% telework, which is something the agency wouldn’t have envisioned even a year or two ago, especially for a law enforcement agency.

Phoebe Nerdahl, the public sector lead for Atlassian, said there technology, tools process steps agencies can take to continue this evolution.

“I think overall government customers are feeling very productive today, if they have the right tooling in place. I think there was a little bit of a scramble at the beginning of the pandemic to see how they were going to make sure that they keep on top of everything. How are they going to make sure everyone understands what needs to be done?” Nerdahl said on the Innovation in Government show sponsored by Carahsoft. “If you had collaborative software in place, that was much easier for you to make that migration. If they didn’t have that tooling in place, or if even they didn’t have laptops in place, it was definitely a challenge at first.”

Now agencies are not only used to working remotely, but have proven it not only can be done, but done successfully.

Nerdahl said agencies have to continue to innovate and secure their systems and networks as they continue their IT modernization efforts.

“I think that there’s always been a really hard balance to strike between innovation and security. A lot of times, newer products are continually changing. They’re more agile, making sure that they have the right certifications,” Nerdahl said. “I know that that’s been a key strategy for Atlassian. Specifically, as we’re accelerating our journey to cloud, making sure that we have our FedRAMP roadmap in place that is strong that we know we’re going to be able to deliver quality software-as-a-service products in a secure manner. I think that moving to an entirely remote work environment has really melded the two, and for both government agencies and vendors alike, brought to light the need to make sure that you can be innovative, you can be new, but you can still put an emphasis on secure delivery as well.”

One of the ways to do that is through better program and project management.

Nerdahl said it’s important for agencies track project’s progress and understand the how the tools worked for specific efforts. She said the topic of remote work, recruiting and project management all will be topics at the 6th annual Atlassian Government Symposium in February.

“Obviously, in public sector, there’s some data that is accessible, there’s some data that can’t be accessible for security reasons. So it’s a double-edged sword, I think that you still need access to that data and usability of it in order to achieve good results and achieve the mission that you’re looking to achieve both the priorities and missions that you’ve been charged with as a public servant,” she said. “But you have to make sure that the right people will have access to the right data. I think it ties in that balance of both innovation and security, that you see more public sector than you do in any other industry.”

She said that could mean data dashboards, snapshots or high level overviews that help drive decision making across an agency. The goal is to direct the data in a useful way.

“I think the number one thing that has helped Atlassian is our ability to tag people in specific points. I constantly am digesting a large amount of data for my personal team and organization. And it would be really counterproductive to make everyone read, again, pages and pages of forecasts or product updates, but being able to say, ‘Hey, I know that my marketer is going to really need this one snippet, highlight it, comment it, bring her in there and she’s able to view it, comment on it, edit it however we need to update that. That’s been critical,” Nerdahl said.

 

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Featured speakers

  • Phoebe Nerdahl

    Public Sector Lead, Atlassian

  • Jason Miller

    Executive Editor, Federal News Network

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