How the Gauteng government is unlocking the benefits of working remotely

Birds eye view of multiple buildings accompanied with a blue sky and white clouds

Digital transformation has enabled working from home – or remotely – for a number of years now, but many individuals and organisations preferred the traditional way of working in a centralised office. However, there are times when it is necessary to work remotely, and the rapid rise and spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19, has changed the way people in South Africa – and globally – live and work.

For many of us, it means social distancing and working from home. This is easy enough to do in the digital age, but it requires the right tools to keep us connected as seamlessly as possible – and this applies in both the public and private sectors.

The Gauteng Provincial Government realised the value of having the right collaboration tools in place to facilitate working remotely long ago. The provincial government adopted Microsoft Teams – the technology company’s integrated collaboration platform incorporating chat, video and audio meetings, file storage, shared files, calendars and apps, and collaborative editing. The Gauteng Province took on the adoption journey two years ago, by first deploying Office with Microsoft Skype for Business and then adapting to the change to Microsoft Teams – and has been using the platform widely across the various departments and its operations ever since.

This adoption comes as part of a bigger strategic partnership between the Gauteng Provincial Government and Microsoft –to enable a smart Gauteng City Region that provides efficient quality services to citizens, with the two partnering on a number of initiatives and Microsoft committing to delivering the tools and technology to bring digital transformation and skills development to the province and its residents.

“Adopting and deploying Teams as part of this digital transformation journey was aimed at driving efficiencies and savings for the province, and empowering government employees by making collaboration between them easier,” says Devante Maphari, Acting Chief Director at the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Empowering government employees to do and collaborate more

Teams is helping in a number of different areas by streamlining, optimising and accelerating internal processes, and driving efficiencies by saving time and money as it removes the need for staff to meet in a physical location.

Provincial employees have welcomed using the platform. “It has required a mindset and culture shift, but training the province’s employees by mapping the technology into actual business scenarios, showing them the different scenarios of how they can use Teams and allowing them to experience first-hand the benefits of collaborating remotely has made them the champion,” says Sduduzo Mngadi, Account Technology Specialist at Microsoft South Africa.

There has been an increase in collaboration since Teams has been introduced, with employees at all levels – from junior level, the MEC’s office and the Premier of the Province – seeing the value of meeting virtually and communicating in real-time on a single platform. It saves them time and having to travel between different provincial office buildings, as well as saving on telephony and paper costs.

Teams is also opening up new ways of working for inter-generational colleagues – and younger digital natives and older workers are increasingly intersecting and collaborating with each other.

Demand for the platform is growing as more and more employees in the province experience its benefits and see how it can be customised according to their unique needs. Greater numbers of departments and municipalities are reaching out about how they can share information seamlessly and instantly across spheres using Teams as their online collaboration tool of choice.

The steady growth in the use of Teams across the provincial government has proven that it is much more than an IT project. It is part of the province’s overarching digital transformation journey, using a customisable business collaboration tool to rethink and streamline ways of working and increase efficiencies, savings and collaboration between employees that are empowered to do more.

Accelerating digital transformation through the adoption of tools like Teams ultimately enables an agile provincial government that is equipped to transform services and speed up service delivery in a tangible way that citizens can see and benefit from – and creating a more efficient, transparent, and productive government overall.

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