Of the roughly 2300 public servants who were deployed away from their regular agency due to the pandemic, about two-thirds said they would do it again, the State of the Service report shows.
Australian Public Service Commissioner Peter Woolcott on Monday released the 2019-20 report which highlights that greater mobility would remain a feature of the APS going forward.
At the height of the pandemic the APS was forced to dedicate most of its resources to responding to the crisis. An estimated 87 per cent of public servants were occupied with delivering critical services.
Within weeks of the pandemic beginning in earnest in Australia, agencies identified 5350 employees who could be deployed to frontline agencies.
By mid-May more than 8900 public servants had been deployed within their own agency and more than 2300 had moved temporarily to other agencies, including 2100 to Services Australia.
Beyond meeting increased demand, the report said there are significant benefits of increased mobility for the public service.
"Employees take what they have learned back to their home agencies," the report reads.
"New skills, expanded networks, and an acute understanding of how APS work directly impacts the public is able to be applied to their usual work."
A survey was conducted of public servants who had been part of the deployed surge workforce and 64 per cent responded that they would volunteer again for a temporary assignment in a different agency.
About 60 per cent of the respondents said they took the opportunity to help serve their fellow Australians and 65 per cent were able to identify a positive feature of the experience.
Some of the identified positives were the ability to help Australians in a crisis, try different work, broaden professional networks and learn new skills.
The report said COVID-19 was able to break down barriers to mobility in the public service. Prior to the pandemic, only about 2 per cent of public servants moved between agencies and less than 1 per cent had moved to a non-Commonwealth organisation.
Barriers to staff mobility such as geographical location and agencies not being able to replace the skills of employees were broken down by work from home capabilities and the need to prioritise the pandemic response above most other government functions.
The public service now must find ways to maintain pathways for mobility in the absence of the pandemic and has set up a permanent surge reserve workforce to respond quickly to future crises.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has been a live pilot of the governance, cultural shifts and logistical mechanisms required to identify and allocate APS capability and capacity as circumstances demand," the report stated.
"The APS Surge Reserve will provide the government with the capacity to rapidly mobilise APS volunteers in large numbers."
The report also highlighted the extreme increase in workload for the public service, particularly public facing services, caused by the pandemic.
Services Australia processed 1.3 million JobSeeker claims in 55 days, a claim volume that would normally be received over 2.5 years.
The agency also received 3.7 million phone calls and 1.9 million service centre walk-ins.
The volume of calls received by the tax office rose by 106 per cent.