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Imagine being a public manager heading the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) communications department in a country with a young population that’s recently gone through a series of cutbacks and austerity measures. In the years to come, you will most likely be tasked with refreshing your teams – largely consisting of middle-aged and older public servants – while keeping costs down by making work processes and employment contracts more flexible. Doing this will allow you to secure funding from the Treasury for a systems upgrade needed to realize the PM’s communication ambitions – to ‘future proof’ the way in which government engages stakeholders. You are keen to kill two birds with one stone here: make room for newer generations of employees who will seize the opportunities provided by the latest communication technologies and social media platforms, and leapfrog into a near future in which you manage your resources and reservoirs – both human and physical – through flexible ‘clouds’ rather than rigid, bureaucratic practices. Recently, technology giants have started to offer services like GovCloud that allow governments to store, move, and process sensitive information 24/7. Such services would allow you to cut back on hardware and paper, tools that are perceived as near obsolete anyway by the graduates you plan to hire. However, you want to do more than just use cloud services for information. What if you could set up online pools and reservoirs of flexible, part-time contractors who would be readily available when needed – during peak times such as annual debates about the federal budget or the opening of the parliamentary year – and disengaged right after peak times ended? Making large parts of your workforce flexible would allow you to achieve tremendous savings on employee benefit expenses.
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