If you were to speak with HR managers and recruiters for government agencies, or simply read the recent Where the Jobs Are report by the Partnership for Public Service and Monster Government Solutions, you’d quickly see a major problem on the horizon for the federal government. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there’s an upcoming personnel crisis.
According to the report, there are currently tens of thousands of available and unfilled, mission-critical jobs at federal agencies. Think about that for a second. That’s TENS OF THOUSANDS of people missing from the agencies responsible for protecting the country from enemies, educating your children, testing pharmaceutical products before they go to market and influencing the ways your taxpayer dollars are spent.
What’s worse, the federal workforce is aging. As this workforce “grays,” more and more employees are retiring without being adequately replaced, leaving short-handed government agencies with even larger employment gaps to fill.
What’s causing this personnel shortage? Why are people increasingly looking to the private sector for employment even during this ongoing recession? Compensation and the hiring process may be a part of it, but one of the increasingly important things employees are looking for in their jobs is flexibility, and that’s one area where the government has lagged behind.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has been fighting for a long time to get government agencies to embrace workplace flexibility and telework as a way to attract new employees looking for flexible work environments, improve the work-life balance of existing employees and keep aging employees in their positions until suitable, experienced replacements are available.
In fact, a recent article in NextGov details some new initiatives that OPM Director John Berry is looking to implement to make the workplace even more flexible. These initiatives include a results-only work environment that allows employees to set their own hours as long as they continue to be productive, accomplish goals and meet deadlines.
Unfortunately, despite all of OPM’s goading, agencies have been hesitant to embrace flexibility and telework, and they’re most likely going to be sheepish in embracing a results-only work environment. At the end of the day, managers in government agencies feel that losing sight of their employees means that they are losing control of them. They dislike the concept of employees going unsupervised and feel that cooperation and collaboration will be handcuffed by a distributed workforce.
Luckily, new technologies like video teleconferencing (VTC) are available for agencies that allow them to embrace telework with no reservations. VTC allows employees to communicate as if they’re in the same room, regardless of how far apart they are. This enables teleworkers to be supervised and still collaborate with their coworkers in much the same way people in the same office could.
By embracing VTC and teleworking, the government can offer the flexibility and improved work-life balance that potential employees are looking for and gain an important leg up on the private sector when it comes to hiring top talent, all while making its workforce more flexible, more efficient and more productive. It can also embrace such revolutionary ideas as the results-only workforce since employees could conceivably set their own hours without ever being unreachable or out of pocket.
Now that’s government working in a new and better way.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting our first-ever TANDBERG Executive Forum with our special guest speaker, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), who addressed a crowd of private and public sector executives on the subject of being a leader during times of great change and crisis.
General Powell used the opportunity to speak about leadership and how to remain focused, take responsibility and work towards improving processes, organizations and people.
What made this particular speech different was that the General’s powerful message wasn’t just delivered to the audience seated in the room with him, but also to individuals across the country via TANDBERG Telepresence solutions.
Audience members were located in the Reston, VA, Dallas, New York and Boston regional TANDBERG offices and were connected via TANDBERG Telepresence. Through the power of TANDBERG Telepresence, the experience was the same for those audience members across the country as it was for the lucky few in Reston, VA that got to sit next to General Powell.
Yesterday’s event was the perfect example of how organizations are changing the way they communicate, with leaders from across the country able to gather without ever boarding a flight. Video is connecting people separated by thousands of miles and enabling them to collaborate and communicate as if they were in the same room. VTC is changing the way people communicate in every agency, office, school, and hospital in the world.
In a way, General Powell’s message of working to improve processes, organizations and people is completely in line with what TANDBERG is doing everyday. TANDBERG’s technologies are enabling organizations and the people who comprise them to accomplish tasks and processes more effectively and efficiently and to collaborate regardless of distance.
Now that’s a new way of working.
Today we had the pleasure of hosting our first-ever TANDBERG Executive Forum. Our special guest speaker, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), addressed a crowd of private and public executives on the subject of being a leader during times of great change and crisis. Specifically, Gen. Powell Gen. Powell spoke on how to remain focused, take responsibility and work towards improving processes, organizations and people. He is truly an inspiring speaker and leader.
Telepresence allowed us to gather dozens of leaders — across the country — for one event without a single flight being taken. Audience members were located in four of our regional TANDBERG offices (Reston, VA; Dallas, TX; New York; NY and Boston, MA) and connected via TANDBERG Telepresence. With the exception of the lucky few that got to sit next to General Powell, the experience was same for everyone at the event regardless of location. That is the power of Telepresence.
Stay tuned! The TANDBERG Executive Forum will continue to host thought leadership events; bringing together distinguished executives from the private and public sectors to discuss current topics. Today was the perfect exhibition of how organizations are changing the way they do business.
If you live in a rural or remote area, access to quality healthcare may be less an issue of insurance coverage, referrals or finances, than an issue of logistics and geography.
Small town hospitals struggle to attract the quality doctors who practice out of the big cities and their suburbs, and many can’t afford to keep the specialists, like neurologists, psychiatrists and other doctors, who can offer patients quality care for specific disorders and illnesses.
To get the care of these doctors, many patients find themselves taking long and expensive trips for treatments. Although this may be fine for non-emergency situations, it can mean delays in administering life-saving treatments when emergency care is needed. These delays can lead to additional life-altering complications, and in some cases be the difference between life and death.
One of the greatest examples of this is stroke. When strokes are caused by blood clots, there are clot-dissolving medications that can be administered to remove the clot and mitigate the damage. Unfortunately, many general practitioners are unable to tell the cause of a stroke immediately and therefore hesitant to administer these medications before a patient can be seen by a neurologist. For some patients, that means being stabilized and transferred over long distances to see a specialist while the delay in treatment leads to increasing damage and lesser recovery.
But now there’s a better way.
To help deliver relief to stroke victims faster and more efficiently, many hospitals without resident neurologists are turning to video teleconferencing (VTC). By connecting doctors in remote and rural hospitals with neurologists miles away via VTC, patients can be examined, and life-saving medicines can be administered, without the significant delays of transporting a patient or awaiting the arrival of a specialist.
This is one of the reasons why the Center for Connected Health and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) recently upgraded their VTC systems with solutions from TANDBERG. The TANDBERG solutions will provide an interoperable, reliable and easy to use VTC system that will enable MGH’s staff of internationally-renowned stroke neurologists, including Dr. Lee Schwamm and other specialists, to treat patients and provide consultations to doctors regardless of where they are located.
In addition to their telestroke program, MGH has launched a pilot program that utilizes TANDBERG’s VTC solutions that, when implemented, can be a real life saver. It’s called teletrauma, and it will enable MGH to bring specialists and translators directly into the emergency room. This is especially important in places with large populations of non-English-speaking residents who may be unable to accurately and effectively describe their problems to doctors. It’s also an excellent way to deliver fast diagnosis and treatment in places where specialists may be a long distance away for people experiencing medical emergencies.
The use of VTC in healthcare is no longer a novelty. VTC is responsible for bringing life-saving treatments to patients who may have had no access to them, or may have had to wait significant amounts of time for them. Through VTC, every patient is able to receive timely, quality care regardless of where they are. At TANDBERG, we’re proud to be at the forefront of this new way to heal.
This week I had the pleasure to attend the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ (NASCIO) 2009 Annual Conference in Austin, TX. The conference brings together CIOs, information technology executives and managers from the states, territories, and the District of Columbia with technology providers to discuss best practices and issues in the public and private sector IT space.
Regardless of which state, territory or district the CIOs and IT professionals represented, one constant seemed to emerge from my conversations: the economy has created significant internal pressure to do more with less.
As my associates have mentioned multiple times on this blog, 48 of the 50 states are experiencing significant budget shortfalls during this economic downturn. With tight budgets getting slashed even more, CIOs are searching for inexpensive technologies that can help their states operate more effectively and save money.
One of the major directions this new cost-cutting directive is leading state CIOs towards is consolidation. In many states, multiple agencies, offices, college campuses, medical facilities, etc., are all employing their own disparate network infrastructures. Each of these network infrastructures costs money to power and maintain and is often not being used to capacity. There is considerable savings to be gained by consolidating these disparate networks and having multiple organizations utilizing the same networks.
One thing that wasn’t often mentioned in all of the consolidation discussions was the multiple disparate video teleconferencing (VTC) infrastructures in each state. With VTC being viewed as a cost saving and mission-critical technology in government offices, schools, hospitals, and other organizations, the proliferation of video in government agencies and organizations has been rapid, but oftentimes disjointed.
By consolidating disparate VTC networks, the states would be taking a huge leap forward in operational effectiveness and efficiency. Collaboration and communication between and within government agencies would steadily increase, new advanced technologies, such as instant messaging and IP telephony would become available to employees, and conducting “business as usual” would be significantly easier in the face of emergency or crisis.
The benefits of the consolidation of state VTC networks are great, but luckily, the price doesn’t have to be. This can all be accomplished without the need to tear down existing infrastructures and rebuild thanks to interoperable VTC solutions like the ones offered by TANDBERG.
The simple addition of some interoperable VTC solutions could turn multiple, disjointed VTC networks into one state-wide VTC network that enables continuity of operations, increases efficiency, and saves money. In this economy, can your state afford to not consider VTC network consolidation?