Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

4 Trends Shaping the Tech-Driven Workforce of the Future

Image via Toria/

The FOSE convention was held this month, and I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on the future of the workforce—specifically how technology is changing the work environment and will enable people to succeed within it.

There were four technologies that I saw as coalescing to transform the workplace: Mobility, meaning both the end-devices that people use, but also the infrastructure (more wifi, better security for information) they run on; collaboration, both in terms of applications and management methods to allow for distributed tasks; agile development and open software, which are affecting overall organizational culture at least as much as software development—making offices quicker to adopt and adapt new methodologies, to inspire a sense of experimentation, and to spur meaningful innovation.

And these four technologies are changing what the workforce will look like, making it more: entrepreneurial, networked, porous, and multidisciplinary.

1. Entrepreneurial

Though some agencies (e.g. DoD) will always be hierarchical, the confluence of the four technologies will make it easier for individuals to find or create opportunities for themselves and for their supervisors to approve them.  A more collaborative and open culture will reward self-starters and mobile will enable them to keep people notified and also to ask for help when and where they need it.

2. Networked

As this beautiful graphic shows, even the smartest don’t act alone. So it is with the current workforce and so it shall continue into the future.  As entrepreneurial as workers will be, their next project—even should they start it themselves—will depend on attracting a network of supporters, advocates, enablers, supervisors, and subordinates to help ensure success.  As the saying goes, you’ve got to build your network before you need it.

3. Porous

Many agencies are iterating on the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, now in its own second iteration.  The idea is simple: invite innovators from beyond government to work within it for a limited time (6- to 9-month stints) to solve finite problems.  Then, those innovators go back to the private sector.  This type of program is completely of a piece with the “gig economy,” an idea that Tina Brown used as a headline, and described as a negative in 2009, but which many serial entrepreneurs embrace as both a path to and indicator of success. 

Having a porous work environment leaves people to come and go between government agencies as their expertise and enthusiasm allows and as the needs of their office change.  Porosity also enables people to enter and leave government agencies more easily than they currently can.

4. Multidisciplinary

Forget about hedgehogs vs. foxes; offices will always have (and need) both.  But the internet makes everyone a fox, and can help most anyone approach hedgehog-like expertise.  Success in such a work environment will both create and reward a workforce that understands how to expand their skill-set quickly, so they can move easily in a porous environment, so they can staff their own projects, so they can be of greater value to their network.

Leadership, Management, and New Hires

While new hires may be champing at the bit to spread their wings and get their hands dirty (to mix corporal metaphors), and while agency leadership may be equally enthusiastic to reap the benefits of new operating procedures, it will be left to management, as ever, to incorporate new technologies into current operations and to transition office culture so that these new rules can be applied.   As an example, Wikis may not have ‘lead editors,’ but by the same token, they don’t write themselves.

As technology advances, and as those entering the workforce depend upon it and expect that it will be available for them, the workplace and workforce will be better for it.  And every level of government can start to prepare for that future now.

Image via Toria/

Gadi Ben-Yehuda is the Director of Innovation and Social Media for the IBM Center for The Business of Government. Previously, he was a Web Strategist for the District of Columbia's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. He has taught creative, expository, and Web writing for more than 10 years to university students, private-sector professionals, and soldiers. He has an MFA in poetry from American University, has taught writing at Howard University, and has worked in Washington, DC, for nonprofits, lobbying organizations, Fleishman-Hillard Global Communications, and Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.