There’s no escaping the fact that technology is making waves throughout all sectors and industries, changing the way we think, work and live. The physical has given way to the virtual in practically every corner of life. And it’s not only changing people and private sector business, it’s changing public sector organisations too. The public sector’s focus is firmly on smarter working and the efficiencies this can create. As the public sector is currently being shaped by tech and will change over the next 10 years, we decided it was an opportune time to explore the impact of these technological changes.
Nothing has made such a momentous impact on society as technology; everyone and everything has felt it in some way. Our expectations, behaviours, culture, the very society we inhabit up are shifting. And, although complex and multi-faceted, organisations are challenged to keep ahead of the game as the world digitally changes.
Our report shows how the public sector is changing. But how far do these changes reach? More to the point, is the level of change enough? Is the public sector on course to becoming a smarter working civil service, fit for the future?
Spanning across the 5 levers mentioned above, let’s take a look at a few of the key survey results and comments:
“Only 3% of respondents state that automation is significantly used in their workflows”
With emerging technologies such as automation and AI, the public sector can create a more efficient and accurate service delivery. This should lead to more opportunity to deploy staff into more customer-facing, empathy-focused and complex work. However, only 3% of respondents stated that their organisations are using automation. This could be due to the cloud of ‘automation anxiety’ generated by the many news features predicting that automation technologies will render humans redundant in their roles and acting as a significant threat to many career paths in the public sector.
“42% of respondents say that service delivery is restrained by legacy hardware.”
It’s interesting to see that, although the public sector feels that the restraints of legacy systems will diminish, they may still be a significant factor in five years’ time and impact organisations’ service delivery. This shows that moving from traditional ways of working and old systems requires more than a simple ‘switching off’; public sector organisations are entangled in their legacy systems and it will clearly take a long time to move on to more modern infrastructure. Keeping up with change is one of government’s biggest challenges.
“89% of respondents say that mobility and remote working will be an important or very important workspace feature the next 10 years.”
With the increasing use of mobile devices and the growth of remote and flexible working, employees now expect to use their own laptops, phones and tablets to work from. Business Mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) provide public sector organisations with freedom from traditional fixed workstations.
Adopting these smarter working practices is no longer desirable, it is an imperative, backed by government policy mandating the implementation of remote-working practices and mobile technology tools. Mobile working may be really important now, and in the future, but the public sector needs to make sure that it is equipped to fulfil this need.
“96% of organisations will still value print in five-years’ time.”
The survey has been particularly interesting with regards to identifying that the smarter office is about a need to assume a smarter, more efficient approach to the use of paper. As a paperless office is not a realistic goal, it’s more pragmatic to identify when, how and why paper will be needed.
The Office of The Future Survey Report 2019 offers a fascinating insight into the public sector’s views on digital transformation. There are multiple components requiring attention during this process. Being open to change is key, being agile and responsive is vital. To conclude with possibly the simplest and yet most accurate survey comment that identifies how, despite where the public sector organisations are, where they plan to be or where they will end up, “Change is the only constant...”