The year 2020 saw the biggest workforce transformation in living memory. Government leaders made drastic moves to keep "business" going and employees safe during the pandemic. That included sending swaths of people to work from home and doubling down on technology solutions to keep them productive.

79%

of public service respondents agree their organisation’s employees just faced the largest and fastest human behavioural change in history due to COVID-19.

53%

of public service organisations invested in cloud-enabled tools to support their remote workforce during COVID-19.

44%

of public service organisations invested in digital collaboration tools to support their remote workforce during COVID-19.

Many public service entities approached these changes as short-term solutions to a temporary problem. In reality, they are part of a longer-term solution to some persistent challenges.

Post-pandemic, no one is going "back to work" as they remember it. Rather, employers and employees – in the private and public sectors – are moving into a new future, one where work can be done from anywhere.

What does this mean in practical terms?

Think back to the early days of "bring your own device" (BYOD) when organisations first allowed employees to bring their own preferred laptops or smartphones into the office to perform their work. Employers had to implement new policies and tech solutions for a wide range of devices, enabling that flexibility while mitigating the risk of devices that weren’t entirely within their control. But it also gave employees a chance for a better work experience and ultimately saved companies money.

Now we’ve moved beyond BYOD and into BYOE: employees are bringing entire environments to work.

94% of Australian respondents agree that remote work opens up the market for difficult-to-find talent and expands the competition for talent among organisations.

It’s a shift that public service organisations helped set in motion with rapid pivots to keep operating during the height of the pandemic. But even as organisations around the world embraced these and other pivots to keep moving, they usually didn’t have time to appreciate the larger ramifications of the shift.

As they move forward into this new future of work, public service enterprises face two key realities.

  • Remote employees have spent a year experiencing the flexibility and benefits of working from home; they’re increasingly reluctant to return to offices. And there’s evidence that remote work can support long-term needs, with 71% of Australian respondents saying they believe productivity improved or stayed the same during the pandemic.
  • Effective strategies to support this new reality are now critical for meeting public service missions. Some individuals and families may still need more of a traditional "human touch" – whether interacting in person or via remote technologies.


The good news? Downsizing the real estate footprint can help governments address fiscal challenges. What’s more, the talent pool is also significantly larger when public employees are not required to live in the seat of government.

Virtual work, real outcomes

Three years from now, successful government organisations will be the ones that resisted the urge to race everyone back to the office in favour of rethinking their workforce model – balancing workforce benefits and mission outcomes. The most effective public service organisations will be physically distributed, creatively connected, empowered by technology and able to innovate from anywhere.

About the Authors

Valerie Armbrust

Managing Director – Consulting, Public Service


Mark Jennings

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, UK and Ireland


Christian Bertmann

Managing Director – Technology, Health & Public Service, ASGR


Ahmed Hassan

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, Cloud & Infrastructure Lead, Australia and New Zealand


Timo Levo

Managing Director – Public Service, Defence, SAP, Europe

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