My name is Miles Walters, and I am a Part-Time MBA student at Boston College. I am working on obtaining my second master’s degree because, honestly, I love school and student loan debt too much. All jokes aside, I received my first graduate degree in Public Administration from Northeastern University and hope to continue honing my skills as a manager and business leader after completing the MBA program.
Like many of us, Covid-19 disrupted much of our lives and in our place of work. At the height of the pandemic, many employers had to embrace telework to maintain productivity to continue delivering services to customers. Today, workers are demanding to telework full-time to have a better work-life balance in the post-pandemic.
Most companies in the private and non-profit sectors are already offered this perk to employees, except today, workers may only have to come into the office twice a month. However, the magnitude of the sudden shift to a digital and socially distant environment took government institutions by storm. Similar to that Wizard of Oz analogy from the textbook.
As a Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, my agency oversees all HR operations and diversity and inclusion initiatives across the state (impacting about 42,000 employees). Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, I have witnessed the ups and downs of digitalizing government resources and services.
To put in perspective, before the pandemic, less than 5% of Commonwealth employees took advantage of teleworking. Although numerous factors can explain the low participation rate, a few primary reasons include comfort in the status quo, an aging workforce, and the unequal distribution of technology across the state. The latter involves many variables, such as the funding of an agency and the given needs of constituents. In other words, it’s above my pay grade.
However, encouraging employees in government to be more adaptable to digitizing our systems and processes is still an uphill battle. When I first came to state government, I remember my colleagues using a typewriter to communicate with a vulnerable population. I wish I was kidding. Although it’s gotten a lot better since then, and fortunately, that typewriter is somewhere catching dust in the office somewhere. My next hope is that it will find its way into an antique shop where the proceeds can go toward a new coffee machine for the office.
The second factor of concern is our aging workforce. It’s no secret that government workers tend to be older, but more than 60% of Commonwealth employees are over the age of 40. Luckily, many workers, not just senior employees, benefit from teleworking and find it more productive working from home. However, governments need to ensure that all employees, not just the digitally savvy, are adequately trained as the technology rollout continues across the state while not revert back to the status quo. Likewise, a shift in the organizational culture most likely will need to occur, which starts at the highest levels of government.
Therefore, I hope to learn how to transform and scale digital assets across government institutions and empower organizations to move away from the status quo and adopt technology as a solution. Finally, I am looking forward to learning from my classmates, the professor, and guest speakers on how to meet this objective