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Good news story: State of Illinois rapidly deploys remote workforce due to COVID-19

The State of Illinois executed what could have been a three-year project in just three days by rapidly scaling its technology capabilities to support 25,000 new remote workers in one month.

Until recently, the State of Illinois’ remote workforce averaged 3,000 employees, with technology to support more than 4,000. That was more than adequate given the focus on serving constituents largely in-person from government offices. 

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, the State issued a stay-at-home order in mid-March, which forced the State to adapt and promptly scale its existing remote workforce capability. Within the first week, 10,000 employees shifted to remote work, and that number quickly grew to over 25,000.

“We were able to immediately support an urgent public safety directive from the Governor of Illinois,” said Ron Guerrier, State of Illinois CIO and Secretary of Innovation and Technology.  

In order to accomplish this feat, the IT team rallied resources and took swift action. In fact, the State’s Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) had begun planning and preparing with disaster recovery scenarios. State agencies began consulting their business continuity plans and considering inventories of critical IT assets, including laptops and other devices, hardware, data usage and more. 

With an assessment of the current state and possible scenarios identified, the DoIT determined what technology to deploy and shortened the remote workforce deployment process to days.

Critical to the success of the transition was training new employees – many of which had never worked in a remote setting before. The State provided call center service support and created on-demand trainings for a variety of topics. This training was critical to the success of the overall remote workforce transition.

As a result of these efforts, the State was able to begin deploying technology to ensure continuity of operations and contribute to the health and well-being of its workforce during the pandemic.

The operations at agencies such as the Department of Public Health, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Employment Security and many others were prioritized to minimize impact on the critical services they provide to Illinois residents.

Amid what has been a challenging time for all, the DoIT kept the State of Illinois running, enabling other agencies and departments to deliver crucial services to citizens of the State. 

This story is part of a continuing series of informative best practices and shout outs to recognize innovative approaches state and local governments have adopted to help them manage through the current COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to the State of Illinois for allowing us to share this material.

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