Shannon Kellogg, Vice President of Public Policy, Americas, at Amazon Web Services In the public sector, one of the fascinating, and hopeful, positives to come from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the dramatic acceptance of “non-traditional” work in government agencies at all levels. By this, we mean that the usual practice of working on-site at a federal or state agency, physically voting in a legislative chamber, or collaborating across multiple departments on a common mission has become easier and more effective. This is, to some great extent, because of government’s accelerated embrace of modern commercial capabilities to perform their vital functions. As the modern workplace evolves from a traditional daily commute to the office to a more fluid and casual environment at home, organizations are increasingly looking for options for employees to work securely from any location. While the trend among employers has been moving towards more flexible remote work policies for years, the recent implementation of “stay at home” orders to address the COVID-19 pandemic increased the demand – and underscored the need – for technology and policies to enable remote work and learning. Prior to the advent of cloud computing, employees would need to physically go into the office to access physical files and also work off of hard drives on their desktops at work. Today, cloud computing allows users access to data from anywhere in the world. In fact, cloud computing can deliver almost any application that can be performed by a traditional data center such as remote desktops, tools for communications and collaboration, and contact center solutions that can be deployed quickly at a global scale – all with the added benefits of cost savings, security, and agility for the organization. One important function to the business of government that stands to benefit from the potential of cloud computing and remote work is the contact center. Traditionally, contact centers have been tethered to a specific physical space that includes a physical phone and a desk. In the traditional world, this made sense. But with people more mobile and living in different locations ranging from urban and rural, and with the need to scale up quickly to meet demand for critical incidents and emergencies, the traditional model is showing strain. Solutions now exist using cloud computing that enable fully operational contact centers to be accessed virtually anywhere. Agents can receive inbound and make outbound calls or chat interactions. All that is needed is a laptop and an internet connection. Given the sheer amount of responsibility being undertaken by government agencies during this time of crisis and the constant flow of new information on response efforts or agency operations, it remains vitally important that citizens have access to the best and most current information. It is critically important that agencies at all levels continue to be available and communicate with their residents; a remote contact center can securely and safely deliver those needs. To meet the scale of demand without the ability to staff physical call centers, both federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the General Services Administration and states such as Rhode Island and West Virginia are leveraging automated technologies and remote contact center capabilities to ensure the public is able to access vital government services and information. As Congress and state legislatures continue to explore bills that safely and securely expand telework, they should consider ways to ensure enabling technologies, such as cloud computing and collaboration tools, can support these new operational environments. Recent experience have also demonstrated the importance of ensuring the continuity of legislative business, in the event that physically congregating is not possible. Here again, cloud-based tools played an important role in supporting remote voting and testimony. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several states passed rules to allow their legislatures or local governments to vote remotely, and policymakers across the country learned how to use video streaming while also casting budget votes. This approach provides resiliency for virtually any emergency situation. The more recent full embrace of remote working solutions magnifies the long-term potential of flexible options, and may potentially dissuade critics who believe that productivity can only be achieved on their premises. Congress, government agencies, and many other public sector organizations can take the lessons learned from recent experience, and reflect on what is best for the work-life balance of their workforce. The workplace restrictions of yesteryear are no longer a barrier due to technological advancements like the cloud.