FedInsights by ServiceNow

The COVID-19 vaccine management is ‘the workflow challenge of a lifetime’

The Federal Government Remote Work Story

If you have an operation with that has some people coming in, you have to make sure that you have the right people coming in at the right times. There's this idea of shift scheduling, and that that has to be implemented, and you have to be able to maintain a physical, appropriate physical distance in the office. These are all changes that may sound easy, but I think the devils in the details with these things. Digital technologies have a have a way to make this a little bit easier to manage. The further opportunity is to bring it all in some kind of dashboard and make it easy for leadership to see what it all looks like and make good management decisions is really essential to.

Using Automation to Return to Work

There's a need for digital technologies that can manage the complexity in the workflows because in the end, we're trying to get people who need a vaccine, a vaccination so they can be safe and healthy and we can get back to some sense of normalcy. It's a really big challenge with national and international implications so you can't do that in spreadsheets. It's too complex to manage through email. We're all we're all adjusting to some of these new requirements. And from what I see, talking to a number of these agencies, there's a clear recognition that we have to take a different approach.

Over the past year, agency successes of moving employees to remote work, upgrading networks and adjusting to the new video meetings and collaborations have been well illustrated.

Agencies figured out virtual onboarding of new employees, creating live chat rooms to give employees the watercooler experience and expanded their pool of applicants.

In a recent Federal News Network survey of more than 2,000 federal employees and contractors found 48% of the respondents would telework full time if they could.

At the same time, 56% said they wouldn’t feel comfortable returning to the office until their co-workers were vaccinated. Additionally, 53% said their agency hasn’t told them when to expect to return to the office.

No matter the timing, federal managers must begin planning for employees to return to the office, even on a limited basis.

The Office of Management and Budget created a workplace safety task force in January. The new group will advise agencies on government operations and continuity, as well as employee safety, throughout the pandemic. The task force will address at least a dozen topics, including testing, employee telework and commuting options, IT infrastructure needed to support remote work, contact tracing, social distancing and vaccine distribution.

Jonathan Alboum, the principal digital strategist for federal at ServiceNow, said agency managers can start preparing today for the future when employees return to the office with a goal of ensuring their safety through the use of technology and data.

“If you have an operation with that has some people coming in, you have to make sure that you have the right people coming in at the right times. There’s this idea of shift scheduling, and that that has to be implemented, and you have to be able to maintain a physical, appropriate physical distance in the office,” Alboum said on the Innovation in Government show. “These are all changes that may sound easy, but I think the devils in the details with these things. Digital technologies have a have a way to make this a little bit easier to manage. The further opportunity is to bring it all in some kind of dashboard and make it easy for leadership to see what it all looks like and make good management decisions is really essential to.”

Alboum said in some ways returning to the office may be more difficult than moving to full-time remote working. He said the need to balance a growing number of requirements for the safe return to work requires agency managers to not only ask the right questions, but collect and analyze the right data.

“There’s data, whether it’s in ServiceNow, or it’s in any of the other systems of record that support bringing people back into the office or other business processes in an agency, understanding the data is very important,” he said. “Being able to see it is very important. But being able to take action, I think, is really most important. And to the extent that those actions can be automated, that they are workflows that have to that can occur based on how data looks.”

This could mean employee self-reporting of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, or how to do health screenings and contact tracing when employees begin to work out of office again.

He said agencies can’t waste time filling out and reviewing spreadsheets. Automation must be part of the answer.

“COVID vaccine management is the workflow challenge of our lifetime,” Alboum said. “We just think about the complexity of the number of entities involved on the on the private sector, the companies that make the vaccine, the companies that make the equipment that’s used to deliver a vaccine, let alone the number of federal agencies involved, and state and local entities involved. There are so many players, being able to coordinate across all of those different entities is really, really hard. And if we want to make sure that the vaccine distribution is very effective, and it’s very equitable, we need to really think about vaccine delivery as a workflow.”

He added the vaccine management challenge should make it clear to agencies that the only way to manage it is through digital technologies.

It’s clear that agencies will play a larger role in managing the vaccine distribution under the Biden administration.

“There’s a need for digital technologies that can manage the complexity in the workflows because in the end, we’re trying to get people who need a vaccine, a vaccination so they can be safe and healthy and we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Alboum said. “It’s a really big challenge with national and international implications so you can’t do that in spreadsheets. It’s too complex to manage through email. We’re all we’re all adjusting to some of these new requirements. And from what I see, talking to a number of these agencies, there’s a clear recognition that we have to take a different approach.”

About ServiceNow

Your government agency is driven to make life better for citizens and ServiceNow is committed to making work, work better for people. Together, we can speed and automate the delivery of modern citizen services while driving down costs. Our cloud-based platform consolidates outdated IT systems, leverages the data, and delivers automated, digital workflows that create great experiences for users. With ServiceNow, agencies can prioritize and respond to cybersecurity threats faster, revitalize the workforce with more efficient HR processes and higher value work, and redefine how to serve citizens with modern solutions. Agencies across civilian, defense and intelligence services use our FedRAMP certified platform to deliver and unlock productivity. To learn more, please visit us online.

Featured speakers

  • Jonathan Alboum

    Federal Chief Technology Officer, ServiceNow

  • Jason Miller

    Executive Editor, Federal News Network

Sign up for breaking news alerts