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Navigating agility: Overcoming challenges to develop a responsive federal workforce

Future forward: Paving the way for long-term remote work success in federal agencies

Adaptability and responsiveness to change are essential to meeting the demands of the twenty-first century. To achieve this, federal agencies are embracing agile methodologies in their projects and in their workforce development. An agile workforce refers to an organization’s ability to respond to changes, adopt new technologies, maintain a consistent measurement of key metrics and adjust its operations to meet their set goals. It includes fostering a culture of flexibility, collaboration, learning and fact-based decision making. Key strategies can lead to success in the face of challenges when developing an agile workforce.

Challenges in developing an agile workforce

1. Time management and productivity

The ability to manage time effectively is a fundamental challenge for federal agencies. Government employees often have numerous responsibilities and finding the time to embrace agile practices can be a challenge, especially when the infrastructure and digital footprint leads to time-consuming and outdated processes. As new methodologies are introduced in a time-sensitive environment, productivity can be reduced while employees learn to adapt to features and functionality to match already time-consuming processes. Balancing daily tasks while learning and adopting new methodologies in the workplace can be a significant hurdle. Federal agencies must address this challenge in a way that allots time for employees to learn but also complete tasks and projects efficiently and on time.

2. Lack of modern technology and access to quality data

The lack of modern infrastructure and enterprise systems and the pressing need for real-time access to quality data are two intertwined challenges federal agencies face when developing an agile workforce. Collaboration can be hindered when federal agencies are faced with insufficient access to digital platforms. These limitations can disrupt communication and teamwork, particularly in projects that involve multiple departments or when employees are working from various offices or remotely. Government agencies often collect data from various sources, which may vary in format, standards and levels of quality. Ensuring data consistency can be timely, and accurate data is essential for informed decision making and ensuring agile strategies are data-driven. Addressing these dual challenges is crucial for federal agencies striving to embrace agility in an era where technology and data are at the forefront of success.

3. Communication skills

Effective communication is vital for agile teams in any industry, but federal agencies may face unique difficulties. Several factors contribute to these challenges.

  • Projects on which federal agencies work involve diverse teams with different levels of experience and background, so bridging the communication gap can be a challenge, especially with multiple levels of knowledge and skill.
  • The use of specialized acronyms and jargon is common in government, which can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the terminology.
  • Combined hybrid and remote work brought additional communication challenges to federal agencies due to the complex and multifaceted nature of government operations.
  • Teams may be spread across different geographic locations which can lead to potential time zone differences and reliance on digital communication tools.

Addressing these challenges is essential for federal agencies to foster collaboration, transparency and efficient decision-making.

Key factors for success

Developing a responsive workforce in federal agencies can be a complex undertaking, but it is a necessary journey to stay competitive as an employer. By embracing these challenges and executing the key factors for success, federal agencies can become more adaptable, efficient and responsive to the demands of the modern workforce.

Federal agencies engage Baker Tilly to solve their most urgent challenges and leverage emerging technology to fulfill their mission. We bring our Oracle Cloud solution knowledge and industry-spanning experience to assist our federal customers in achieving the modernization and enhancement of their back-office strategies, operations and technological infrastructure.

The Future forward: Paving the way for long-term remote work success in federal agencies article series focuses on specific human capital management strategies that can enable your federal agency to achieve that seemingly daunting goal. We will discuss three key strategies to simultaneously improve your remote workforce’s productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction. Check out the first article in the series, Challenges of talent acquisition for federal agencies and stay tuned for our next topic, leveraging cloud software.

Meghan Loomis
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