Providing safe communications for the UK public sector

1 min read


The comfort of the familiar has been a double-edged sword during the pandemic. Staying safe at home, for many of us, has meant working from there, too, which hasn’t always been easy. For civil servants, from social workers to food standards inspectors and planning officers, this meant considerable change in protocols, and the familiarity of home bred uncertainty in other areas, particularly how to remain available to the people they are responsible for. Public servants have had to be more accessible and responsive than ever before, in many cases, without being able to be on site, on a home visit, in court or in meetings. 

Therefore, in March, email moved from supporting act to crucial tool in many public sector job roles, just at the time when it was most exposed to risk. The pandemic forced the fastest and most drastic digital deployments the civil service workforce has ever seen, supplying thousands of workers with secure communication tools to function remotely, including email. Accessing and sharing data over email, particularly sensitive patient or citizen information, needs an increased focus when multiple devices and locations are suddenly introduced. Data security and confidence in what’s sent, and to whom, by email, needed to be a constant, not an extra risk. 

Advocating for the comfort of secure communication

Public sector workers have received support. Unison, the UK’s largest union with 1.3 million members, produced guidance for local government workers during the pandemic, which, for example, included a call for adequate safeguards for social workers so that they can “continue to provide services and undertake direct work safely in the COVID-19 world….which include… clear guidance and training on virtual working and suitable electronic communications.” Top former civil servants have offered working from home advice, although the wellbeing tips don’t cover the additional stress of conforming to secure email policies.

Confidence in a secure outbound email system which works with you, not against you when you are in new workplace surroundings must be considered as a necessity, especially as we move through the cycle of the pandemic and the civil service begins to think about returning to the workplace.

The comfort of safe communications must be a constant. 

Minimise data leaks

Written by

Kate O'Neill

Originally published on December 18, 2020

Last update on February 11, 2021