Telethon: have three years of remote and flexible working changed public services for good?

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March 28, 2023

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Three years on from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, how – and where – the public sector works has been changed massively. Many public servants had to switch to working remotely nearly instantly in 2020 as countries introduced lockdowns to tackle the spread of COVID-19, and many governments then developed hybrid working arrangements – where officials work in the office and remotely throughout the week – as staff embraced the benefits of working from home.

However, many governments are still grappling with what the hybrid world means for public service delivery. While the views of staff that they want to retain the option of working remotely, senior public servants have said that they are still lacking the data on business efficiency and output from flexible working.

This webinar looked at how three years of flexible working has affected – for better or worse – the productivity of public services, and looked at how leaders, managers and staff can come together to understand what works.

Join this session to find out:

  • How governments have changed how they work compared to 2020.
  • The evidence on what works – and doesn’t work – in remote and flexible working.
  • How to balance the needs of employees and employers in remote working.


Emmanuel Kgomo, Chief Director, Department of Public Service and Administration, South Africa

Mr Emmanuel Kgomo is a Chief Director in the Department of Public Service and Administration. He heads the Batho Pele (People First) Unit, whose focus is on the professionalisation of the public service through the Batho Pele programme.

Mr Kgomo’s first office in a government department was at the Presidency in 2000-2003. He then moved to Gauteng where he launched the Community Development Workers’ programme in the Provincial Government between 2003-2004, and was located in the then Department of Development Planning and Local Government (currently the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs). He joined the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in November 2004. In 2005 he launched the Community Development Workers Programme nationally. He transferred from the Ministry into the Department in 2006 where he joined the Service Delivery Branch, his present location.

He has coordinated the National Batho Pele Excellence Awards in the DPSA since their inception in 2013, and is passionate about professionalising the public service – especially the cultural aspects.

Stéphan Déry, Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Portrait (head shot) of Stephan Déry; RPS (Real Property Services); PSPC; ADM.

Stéphan Déry is the Assistant Deputy Minister of Real Property Services for Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). He is passionate about real property and has built a long public sector career in this domain. As a service provider to the Government of Canada, Stéphan is committed to collaboration and engagement with both internal and external partners. For example, in an effort to reach out to the Canadian real property community, he is leveraging the support of the Government’s Regional Federal Councils to further advance shared priorities and foster collaboration.

In his role as assistant deputy minister, Stéphan is responsible for the delivery of the entire suite of real property services to 102 Canadian federal departments and agencies. This includes office accommodation, project management, real estate services and specialty services (geomatics, environmental, architectural and engineering), the management of multiple federal engineering assets (bridges, dams, highways and dry docks), as well as the acquisition and disposal of federal real property.

Stéphan is honoured to serve as co-chair (on the Deputy Minister’s behalf) of the annual joint meeting between the Canadian Construction Association and the Government of Canada, who have been meeting and collaborating together for over 50 years. He is also a staunch supporter of The Workplace Network, an international community of senior public sector real estate executives, for which he is the current President.

In addition, Stéphan is a board member on the Canada Green Building Council, a member of The National Advisory Council for the Building Owners and Managers Association, a board member of L’Association des gestionnaires de parcs immobiliers institutionnels, and the co-chair of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Real Property Committee.

Christian Roques, Deputy Director General, HR Operations, Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security, European Commission

Christian Roques is a graduate of HEC and Sciences Po Paris. He spent ten years in DG Competition in the areas of cartels, transactions and mergers, and several years as legal secretary to a former President of the EU General Court. He was then Head of Unit and Director for 10 years in DG HR, where he worked, among other things, on the reform of the Staff Regulations and legal issues and, more recently, managed, among other things, the measures to deal with the COVID pandemic for the Commission as an employer or the new HR strategy on working conditions and greening of the Commission. He is now Deputy Director General in charge of all operations of DG HR (selection/recruitment, career and well-being).

Allison Heikens Azevedo, Deputy Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration

Allison H. Azevedo is Deputy Commissioner for the Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), headquartered in Washington, D.C. In this Chief Operating Officer role, Azevedo oversees a portfolio of federally owned and leased real estate encompassing 370 million square feet. Prior to her elevation to PBS Deputy Commissioner, Azevedo was Assistant Commissioner of PBS Leasing. While stewarding its 184 million square feet and accompanying $5.7 billion budget, Azevedo orchestrated a groundbreaking lease replacement strategy for the national leasing portfolio. The undertaking enabled PBS to improve on-time replacement of expiring leases by 30%, while simultaneously avoiding nearly $4 billion in lease costs over a three-year period.

Before joining GSA headquarters, Azevedo served as Regional Commissioner in GSA’s Heartland Region (based in Kansas City, Missouri) and its Great Lakes Region (based in Chicago), with a combined commercial real estate portfolio topping 57 million square feet. In both regions, she steered GSA toward innovative real estate solutions that dramatically improved work environments and reduced operations and maintenance costs in federal assets. Azevedo also regularly assisted federal agencies with workplace initiatives dedicated to reducing costs, increasing utilization rates, and advancing mission-related goals.

During her tenure as Regional Commissioner of the Great Lakes Region, Azevedo led the execution of a $825 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) design and construction program as well as nearly $100 million in energy savings performance contract awards. In the Heartland Region, she repositioned key assets to achieve taxpayer savings and championed safety and compliance in the management of federal inventory. Azevedo also enhanced the Heartland Region’s expertise in workplace planning and customer service delivery, and she aligned GSA portfolio strategies more closely with local economic growth and development plans in its four-state territory.

Webinar chair: Richard Johnstone, Executive editor, Global Government Forum

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.