The Indiana CIO explains a recent move to a more modern, no-offices workspace for his workforce.
Modernizing the government workforce brings up the same questions over and over: How do you get new talent to come to the public sector? Once they’re in the door, what will motivate them to stay?
The Indiana Office of Technology is trying something new to change things up in the way employees work together, hopefully becoming more efficient and effective in the process. At the annual National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) conference in Austin, Texas, this October, CIO Dewand Neely explained to Government Technology the thinking behind taking all staff out of offices, putting them together on one open floor, and the benefits and drawbacks that have come with it.
While there has been some pushback from veteran employees, Neely said, nearly everyone is open to the experiment. Plus, literally tearing down walls has increased the space the department has, and Neely can now fit 270 staff on one floor, almost 100 more than in their former setup.
When asked how the predicted impending retirement wave will affect his agency, Neely was optimistic. “We were all kind of afraid here the last couple of years,” he said. “I’ve run the numbers: I have about 30 percent of my 300 folks that are eligible [to retire] right now, but they’ve been eligible though for the last couple years too, and they’re still sticking around.”
And since that workforce loss is more gradual than he’d anticipated, it's easier to plan for, and there’s more room, so to speak, to explore the boundaries of how a state IT agency can and should operate.
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