The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing unprecedented change on the public sector. Agencies are accelerating online plans and processes to meet increased demand for everything from filing for unemployment and rent deferral to renewing driver’s licenses.
With millions of employees now working remotely, organizations need not just tools and technologies to keep pace, but also technology partners to help them scale quickly and efficiently. Existing systems and infrastructure were not prepared for such sudden and widespread online use—nor the increased security risk that has come with it.
While many have what they need to work from home, others are scrambling to translate familiar ways of doing things to an unfamiliar virtual environment. The following tips can help you maintain operations and support your staff so that they can remain a stable resource in these unsteady times.
Get the right equipment in place to empower your employees
In some respects, the sudden shift to remote work can spark greater collaboration among staff members—if they have the right technology to connect frequently and effectively, which isn’t always the case.
For example, before COVID-19, not every government employee had a dedicated laptop to take home with them. There was simply no reason to justify additional expenditures. Now, it’s essential to equip everyone with the right technology. That means understanding what type of devices different departments need to perform essential duties.
Can or should the staff member use an iPad if a laptop isn’t available, or even a personal device? What type of operating system best meets their specific needs? Make sure they’re able to take advantage of web conferencing platforms to collaborate with their team.
For employees without internet access, mobile hotspots and cellular-enabled tablets can help secure primary connectivity. Content-filtering JetPacks can also help students stay connected to lesson plans, even in locations without internet access. These deliver enhanced protective measures by only allowing access to websites with educational content.
For universities that need to establish distance-learning quickly, consider setting up a hotline using IP toll-free access to a virtual mailbox. This gives students, parents, and staff a convenient way to get updates. Interactive voice response capabilities can also alleviate taxed resources by directing urgent calls to the right people.
In addition to supporting a remote workforce, federal and state agencies face the challenge of expanding operations to provide support for government-sponsored programs launched to support emergency needs. This caused a shortage of computers, contact center agents, and other infrastructure components.
Finding available resources can be challenging, but not all staff will need the latest and greatest technology. Look for easily deployable tools that integrate well with your existing solutions.
Serve and protect with increased security measures
There are a wide range of different use cases and security levels for managing different devices. And not everyone knows how to access internal data securely. Hackers recognize this weakness and actively are exploiting it.
Most agencies have virtual private networks (VPNs) but current systems may not be designed to handle the high volume of remote employee traffic or malware attacks. Traditional VPN systems also don’t address the risk of introducing malware through insecure remote worker systems or denial of service malware attacks.
That’s why validating the organization’s security ability to deflect attacks is especially critical right now, as is maintaining network availability for remote users who have critical duties to fulfill. This is particularly critical for first responders and medical professionals who work in some of the most challenging environments and they need a secure, reliable way to collaborate with dispatch as well as each other.
Keep calm and on-call
The sudden shift to home-based agents is challenging for many government contact centers, as they work to meet the needs of both the general public and their internal workforces, while handling an exponential increase in call volumes.
Contact center solutions can help agencies stand up new capabilities in a short amount of time. They can leverage call routing with simple scripting and provide messaging to keep employees and the public informed on hot topics. All it takes is a 10-digit phone number and an internet connection to transform a home office into a virtual contact center.
Other digital customer experience capabilities can go virtual through online automated digital chatbots using AI and machine learning. These services help reduce capacity constraints on traditional contact centers and enable users to get the help they need to access services and complete transactions without having to speak to a live agent.
Focus on the present to stay ready for the future
Implement solutions today to support your workforce of tomorrow. Transform your business model now to leverage scalable, secure cloud based solutions and collaboration options increasing your agility to adapt and succeed going forward.
We stand ready to partner, collaborate, and assist you to help you continue to serve your constituents during this unprecedented time and beyond.