Remote work driving Mass. IT workers to the private sector, CIO says

In yet another unanticipated change sparked by the pandemic, information technology workers in the Massachusetts state government have begun departing for the public sector after the shift to remote work, state Chief Information Officer Curtis Wood told StateScoop in a recent video interview.

While remote work has been hailed by many state IT leaders as an unexpected boon — affording greater productivity and work-life balance, though frequently at the expense of the camaraderie that comes with in-person work — it also challenged Massachusetts’ government workforce.

“Staffing has become a real challenge, especially with the remote workforce where we’ve lost folks to the private sector more recently, because the opportunity to work from home, it’s not just about salary, it’s also about that working condition,” Wood said during an interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers conference last month.

That’s pushed the state to recruit people who have “a sense of purpose for government service,” Wood said, and to restructure some of his organization’s roles, such as assigning governance and compliance responsibilities to the state’s chief risk officer.

But Wood also pointed to how the pandemic helped build morale among IT workers who’d previously existed in an idiom more abstract than that of a health crisis that constantly demanded new projects.

“We’re seeing the excitement of actual immediate outcomes, which is real gratification for us,” he said.