This is part III of a three-part blog series from POLITICO Pro bringing you tips and best practices learned from our 2020 Policy Insiders Report: Policymaking During a Pandemic. Read part I and part II here.
On March 16, 2020, officials announced the first shelter-in-place orders in California, marking the start of a massive shift to remote work for many. Working remotely presents unique challenges for policy professionals, given the importance of in-person meetings, interpersonal communication and Congress’ 231-year history of policymaking in person.
On top of new challenges, 83% of respondents in our 2020 Policy Insiders Report: Policymaking During a Pandemic, said their policy portfolios expanded since the onset of the pandemic. In short, policy professionals are overwhelmed and need a better way to work.
In this year’s Policy Insider’s Report, we asked your peers how they navigate this new normal. Here are three tips to help you increase efficiency, productivity and show value.
Survey respondents noted using a range of methods to track federal and state government responses to the pandemic. Popular strategies include using digital tools (44%), leveraging relationships with government contacts (62%) and getting updates through trade associations. Still, 62% of survey respondents indicated that they are tracking the policy response to the pandemic manually, all while taking on more responsibilities. They’re combing through numerous media sources, government websites and cumbersome databases to piece together disparate information.
Over the last five months, policy professionals have experienced shifts to their agendas or priorities, team structure and budget, travel schedule and more. These changes have intensified two of the three biggest challenges policy professionals face, including coordinating with other functions within their organizations (38%) and coordinating with peers within their function across regions (28%). To overcome this, survey respondents report using a range of tools like Microsoft Teams, video conferencing platforms and policy workflow tools like POLITICO Pro to collaborate.
Collaboration overload occurs when a worker spends so much time engaging with colleagues and responding to requests that they have little time to actually get work done. This is a very real challenge for policy professionals in the era of coronavirus.
Here’s what collaboration overload looks like for policy professionals:
“Coordination of work across departments is more challenging as everyone is overbooked with Zoom meetings on separate paths. It is more time-consuming to be informed and connected with co-workers and legislative staff.”
“Because we can't collaborate in person, I feel there is an overcompensation to connect virtually, which keeps people from doing work. We just talk about the work and can't get to it since we are also juggling a multitude of other responsibilities.”
“I spend a lot more time communicating with staff and collaborating with other like-minded organizations and coalitions. Because so much time is spent on Zoom meetings and responding to email, it leaves very little time for proactive policy development. It feels like we only have time to be reactive.”
Read the full 2020 Policy Insider's Report here.
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