Insight by HP Federal

CX Exchange 2023: HP Federal’s Matt Barry on 4 trends that will affect the future of federal work

As agencies reshape what it means to work in the public sector, we talk to HP Federal’s Matt Barry to better understand how cultural and technology shifts wil...

Federal managers and supervisors, building on what agencies have learned about workplace flexibility since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are coming to terms with what the future of work will look like in government.

Agencies need to consider four emerging trends that are reshaping public-sector work, said Matt Barry, chief operating officer for HP Federal. He shared these trends during the Federal News Network 2023 CX Exchange and talked about the impact of technology, culture and customer experience in navigating the four trends successfully.

Trend 1: Supporting a hybrid workforce

One major structural change involves agencies successfully managing the move to a fully hybrid workplace, Barry said.

Many federal employees have embraced telework and a remote workforce since the start of the pandemic, but Barry said agencies need to better identify opportunities for creating meaningful in-person work and work environments.

“There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic days. Employees have embraced the flexibility that they feel today,” he said. “But it’s super important for us to think through that it’s not binary. It’s not one or the other. … If we wanted to roll up our sleeves and go work on a program together, craft a strategy with some colleagues, [there’s] nothing better than to be in a room together. And that camaraderie, the relationship-building, all of that is paramount in order to operate in a hybrid work environment successfully.”

Agency executives, data scientists, project managers and field agents may all have diverse needs and expectations from a hybrid work environment, and Barry said workplace flexibility tools need to consider all those roles.

“Imagine a data scientist working for an agency is home, and she’s got an incredibly intensive compute task to do … In a legacy IT world, she would be cut off from the advanced compute resources that she would ordinarily have. Today, she can look at a single pane of glass and access remotely those resources in a high-bit fidelity, highly secure way that enables that work and makes it possible,” Barry said.

Emerging tools can also help promote digital equity in hybrid meetings.

“The folks that are beaming in are tiny squares on the big screen in the front of the room, and the dominant voices [are] in the room,” he said. “It’s not a very empowering experience. What does engagement look like when you’re in that kind of world, and what can we do to innovate around that? That’s something that we’ve spent a ton of time thinking about. … It could be things as simple, but with profound technology, as cameras that can track and key on a speaker — whether you’re in the room or on the screen.”

Trend 2: Weighing the impact of AI on workforce demands

Agencies should also reconsider the types of skills they’ll need from prospective hires going forward given the potential impact of artificial intelligence to reduce manual and repetitive processes. As Barry put it, the age of AI is just now coming into focus, but it will affect workforce needs of the future.

“We’re absolutely at a tipping point when it comes to the rate of change, the pace of change,” he said. “That’s daunting when I think about the nature of work itself, changing the work patterns and processes, and how our customers need to evolve to meet that challenge. And frankly, it’s also exciting for the same reason. It creates an opportunity for transformational change.”

Trend 3: Future-proofing to ensure resiliency

More broadly, Barry pointed to how companies are digging out from the pandemic’s impact on supply chain disruptions and how industries are rethinking ways to avoid those disruptions as part of becoming more resilient in the future. Agencies must do the same, he said.

The federal government also has staked out a leadership role in this effort, he said, citing President Joe Biden’s signing the CHIPS and Science Act in August 2022. The CHIPS Act seeks to mitigate U.S. reliance on overseas semiconductor manufacturing by increasing domestic chip production.

“It’s not just cost and quality, like we’ve thought about in the past, but what does our manufacturing footprint need to look like? What do our supply chains with our customers need to look like? How do we need to evolve against that backdrop?” Barry said.

Trend 4: Expanding CX efforts that build trust

Agencies and industry must also prepare their organizations to focus on how to address growing public mistrust.

Barry said data trends show that people have less trust in government institutions and exhibit a “fierce affiliation” with groups and brands that share similar values to their own.

Given that shift in attitudes, he said most private and public-sector organizations are looking at new digital strategies to better engage with their customers.

“Leadership teams can’t do it on their own. We have to roll up our sleeves and work alongside employees. A lot of the innovation we’re focused on is actually to deliver those superior experiences for employees, so that agencies can go and craft and drive those outcomes that they want to drive,” he said.

For a hybrid work environment to succeed and create superior experiences, it cannot be one size fits all however, Barry said

“I think about the first-order principles around how work needs to get done. What are the elements of any solution that we would innovate around? And the words are consistent, secure and productive experiences. Anything we do, we’re designing and innovating with those first-order principles in mind.”

To read or watch other sessions on demand, go to our 2023 CX Exchange event page.

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