Why civil service buildings are setting new industry standards for tech

In this piece for PublicTechnology, Government Property Agency chief technology officer Kean Jones outlines why creating a modern digital workplace is crucial in enabling government to attract the best talent

Expectations of a modern workplace have changed at incredible speed, accelerated by the pandemic and leaps in technology. The office landscape today blends physical and digital spaces like never before, transcending borders and time zones. 

More than that, civil servants want to experience the workplace as any discerning consumer would, with all the necessary technology solutions in place to create this. Our job at the Government Property Agency is to ensure that civil service buildings are not just keeping up with tech-led advancements in workplace experience but that we’re setting new industry standards too. In addition, in today’s highly competitive market, an enhanced, digital-led employee experience is vital to attract the talent we need in the civil service. We must be able to offer public sector workers industry-leading facilities and spaces.

We are doing this in two ways to deliver benefits to our clients and customers: government departments, and civil servants.

First, we’re consolidating the government portfolio, creating the future office estate with state-of-the-art hubs and delivering both cost and energy savings as our footprint becomes smaller and more efficient.

Second, within those buildings, we’re harnessing technology to standardise and centralise processes and remove friction in the everyday workplace experience – from connecting automatically to GovWifi on entering a government building, to expecting a familiar, easy-to-use audiovisual set-up in all meeting rooms across the estate.

Among the tech-enhanced innovations we’re incorporating, GovPass, our single security pass system, is pivotal in enabling connectivity, convenience and simplicity in the workplace experience. GovPass opens up a hassle-free experience for civil servants and allows them to use their time productively, rather than trying to grapple with tech and admin. It means civil servants can easily work in different locations around the country as needed and enjoy face to face connection and collaboration with colleagues.

Another successful initiative is GovPrint, a follow me-style print service which is currently being deployed across hubs and the larger offices we manage. Civil servants register initially with their GovPass and can then print, copy or scan from any GovPrint device, on any floor, in any building they have access to. Although greatly minimised today for sustainability reasons, print is always going to be an essential part of our offer. We’ll be starting a major rollout in another two large government departments this summer and are looking to move to cloud-based solutions to make the print experience even simpler.

Providing civil servants with excellent spaces that allow them to collaborate with teams and work productively at the heart of the communities they’re serving is at the core of our work. Creating new ways of working by harnessing interoperable technology has been key to our success. Through providing secure and hassle free access to buildings, connectivity to GovWifi and the ongoing rollout of GovPrint we can continue to deliver the kind of industry-leading standards which make our estate best in class and enable civil servants to be productive.

Kean Jones (pictured above right) is chief technology officer of the Government Property Agency

Kean Jones

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