Municipalities streamline flexible working

July 16, 2021 - 4 minutes reading time
Article by Anp Expert Support

Working partly at the office and partly at home: hybrid working is the new reality for many organizations. Municipalities also have a great need for location, time and device-independent work, and with it the demand for technological solutions to enable effective collaboration. To support them in this, Centric and Microsoft have started a Public Cloud partnership.

The corona pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we do our work. The need for flexible workplaces was already steadily rising in recent years, but the massive home working during the lockdown accelerated it. What was needed: a cloud environment that works well and is supported by skilled IT experts.

The transition to place-, time- and device-independent working is also high on the agenda of municipalities, says Frank van Leeuwen, expert in the field of the modern workplace at Centric. “That doesn't just stop at the workplace, but everything around it also has to be organized.” He lists the questions they need to answer: “Think about: Who is there and who is not in the office? Can you scale down offices or can you suffice with smaller housing? How can we still have good meetings if we are not all in the office?"

Not ready yet for effective video conferencing

Bert van Lith, information manager at the municipality of Rijswijk, recognizes these questions. “A number of colleagues work from home and some at the office,” he outlines. We are not yet well equipped to allow those people to effectively have video conferences together. A lot of attention is needed to guide colleagues in this new way of working. That certainly doesn't happen automatically, because there are colleagues who would like to go back to the old situation."

Many municipalities are supported and advised by Centric for their IT services. Centric has now signed a hybrid work agreement with cloud provider Microsoft. This allows users to take advantage of the latest technologies from Microsoft, and Centric's support in implementing them.

Public Cloud collaboration with Microsoft

"We are now close to the fire', says Van Leeuwen about this so-called Public Cloud collaboration. “We now have many more inputs and connections to support customers. The partnership with Microsoft also enables us to help municipalities set up flexible workplaces."

According to Van Lith, the challenge for the municipality of Rijswijk was not so much in organizing working from home in itself: "Some of our employees already had a lot of experience with this before the pandemic", he says. The main challenge for him was to facilitate everyone in a short period of time. This involved quickly providing a laptop or iPad and ensuring that people could purchase additional resources to work well at home, such as peripherals and an office chair.

Van Leeuwen recognizes this. He recently noticed that in many municipalities the infrastructure was not yet designed to meet the demand for 'smart working' that arose during the corona crisis. "They had a lot of trouble implementing this, especially in the field of audio and video."

Fast and easy scaling up and down

He explains that from now on Centric and Microsoft can offer municipalities flexibility, scalability and continuity with the so-called Managed Modern Workplace, so that they can easily scale up and down. "This way municipal employees can easily work from home, with all the functionalities they are used to."

Van Lith confirms the need for this kind of support. “This new way of working is constantly changing due to advancing technology. If we really want to learn to work efficiently, experts can show us what is possible. This mainly concerns the uses and applications we work with."

Preventing data breaches

According to Van Leeuwen, the collaboration between Microsoft and Centric is a godsend for municipalities. Compliance is one of the most important issues with a first step to the cloud. The Baseline Information Security Government (BIO) plays an important role in this, he explains: "That is the policy that all municipalities must adhere to, for example to prevent data leaks and to remain in control. With this collaboration, we offer a modern workplace using Microsoft techniques, managed from the cloud via the Managed Modern Workplace, whereby we ensure on behalf of Centric that the BIO guidelines are correctly set and the municipality is in control."

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