Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread stay-at-home orders early last year, government agencies and educational systems have faced a painful new reality that seems likely to persist through most of 2021. Although the public sector had been generally encouraged to adopt telework since 2010, resistance to it remained high until the pandemic struck. The reasons cited for the resistance included technological issues such as connectivity, an inability to be immediately available for impromptu meetings, the inability to convey intangible information or priorities, and distrust of some employees\u2019 work ethics.\nAs a result, government employees suddenly working from home struggled with productivity even as many agencies faced surges in demand for their services. For example, with unemployment exploding and passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, many state agencies providing unemployment benefits were unable to keep pace with the massive increase in requests for help, resulting in overwhelmed agents and frustrated citizens. We also saw widespread unemployment insurance fraud as agencies struggled to cope with the number of applications and establish new processes to ensure the identity of applicants. And now, with the slower-than-expected rollout of the vaccine, federal and state government agencies are again facing criticism for a lack of information hubs and poor communication with constituents.\nWhile most educational institutions and local school systems were able to shut down briefly to formulate strategies for distanced learning, they still struggled to provide administrators and teachers with the tools they needed to conduct effective remote classes, leading to a backlash from frustrated teachers, students, and parents. Vulnerabilities in existing tools allowed for intrusions into online classes, including the display of highly inappropriate materials to minors, which added to the frustration and anger.\nIn 2021, Workstream Collaboration (WSC) solutions will enable government agencies and educational institutions to replace their disparate, siloed communication tools with simple, cost-effective strategies for delivering, enhancing, scaling, and securing remote services. This will enable at-home agency employees to stay productive and compliant, while providing a foundation for more interactive, higher-quality remote learning environments.\nWorkstream Collaboration \nIn the past, organizations trying to achieve a Unified Communications (UC) environment that would support remote work struggled to integrate several disparate tools, leading to multiple logins, different user interfaces, and little if any flow of information among the various tools. In this frustrating environment, creating integrated, real-time, secure, and compliant workflows was extraordinarily difficult and costly.\nToday, secure and compliant Workstream Collaboration solutions like Avaya Spaces\u2122 integrate multiple tools, including voice, video, messaging, chat, and task management. This helps maintain the context of conversations even when moving from one tool to another and enables teams to create public and private workspaces for information sharing and collaboration.\nTeam collaboration solutions like Avaya Spaces can integrate with other WSC platforms such as Avaya OneCloud CPaaS to create a comprehensive and unified communications environment to automate more processes, enhance collaboration, and increase productivity. For example, HIPPA-compliant Avaya OneCloud CPaaS is already helping government agencies and healthcare providers develop a comprehensive communications plan to support the vaccination process. By enabling teams to quickly customize and deploy automated processes, they can address many of the communication challenges related to the vaccine rollout, including identifying and reaching priority populations, and collecting, tracking, and reporting key measures of progress. The solution is also helping teams manage appointments more effectively, including the delivery of the second vaccine doses.\nIn 2021, with WSC as the foundation for collaboration, government agencies will be able to:\n\nPersist conversations across public or private channels. This means over time they can capture and retain valuable information, in turn providing deeper levels of insight to the right person at the right moment in the decision-making process.\nCollaborate across channels in secure meeting spaces that can be limited to only named and authenticated participants.\nInteract more transparently with constituents by connecting over the channels that constituents prefer.\nProvide secure, real-time actionable alerts and notifications across devices, whether to apprise agency staff of upcoming deadlines or notify constituents of an emergency or the status of a vaccination program.\nUse artificial intelligence (AI) to improve meetings by removing background noise and creating live transcriptions that can differentiate voices to create an accurate record of conversations.\nIntegrate WSC with other tools to ensure collaborators have immediate access to information that may be stored in other cloud and legacy business systems and databases, such as Microsoft Office 365.\n\nEducational institutions and local school systems will also be able to:\n\nConduct remote learning courses with dozens of students without worrying about intrusions from disruptive students or non-students.\nUse AI to transform the student experience through higher-quality video-based classes.\nEnable groups of students to work safely and more effectively together with access to more information and better interactions with teachers\nKeep parents better informed of student progress.\nFacilitate more effective Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) despite the lack of face-to-face meetings.\nIntegrate WSC with other educational tools to create a more comprehensive teaching environment across both on-campus and remote interactions.\n\nGartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of teams will rely on WSC as their primary means of communicating, coordinating, and sharing information. By 2023, Gartner assumes that 75% of organizations using WSC will have it fully extended to all employees \u2013 up from 45% in 2019.\nIn 2021, Workstream Collaboration solutions will continue to mature, providing more features, greater channel flexibility, more precise control over interactions, and greater levels of security. The year 2021 will also be a turning point for the public sector as the pandemic subsides and many government agencies, educational institutions, and local school systems can use their new technology platforms to incorporate the lessons learned from remote access and permanently reshape how they fulfill their missions.\nTo learn more about Avaya\u2019s suite of solutions,\u00a0visit.