Telework Survey Reveals IT Support Expanding
CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), a source of Information Technology (IT) solutions to governments and educators, has announced the findings of its fourth annual telework survey. According to the national survey of Federal government and private-sector employees and IT professionals, private-sector employers have taken significant steps to expand telework initiatives, and private-sector telework adoption is approaching the Federal level, with 14 percent of private-sector employees teleworking, compared to 17 percent of Federal employees.
The CDW-G survey shows that 76 percent of private-sector employers provide technical support for remote workers, up 27 percentage points over 2007. Federal agencies remain strong advocates for telework, also called telecommuting, with 56 percent of Federal IT professionals indicating that their agencies provide IT support for teleworkers. Since 2005, Federal IT support has grown 23 percent, according to a year-over-year trend analysis of telework survey data.
Federal law requires agencies to enable telework for 100 percent of eligible employees. Drivers for Federal telework adoption include military base closings and realignments, traffic congestion around major metropolitan areas and environmental impacts, as well as enabling productivity for field workers and planning for continuity of operations in the event of natural or manmade catastrophes.
Alongside the increase in technical support for teleworkers, the percentage of Federal employees eligible to work remotely dipped to 40 percent from its high of 55 percent in 2006. The drop coincides with continuing concern about IT security; IT professionals in both sectors cited security as their top concern about telework, with 42 percent of Federal IT professionals and 27 percent of private-sector IT professionals indicating that it is their most pressing challenge.
“More stringent IT security policies are controlling telework expansion in the Federal government,” says Andy Lausch, senior director of Federal sales for CDW-G. “Federal agencies recognize that IT security and telework can co-exist, and they are carefully managing telework programs hand-in-hand with layered technology solutions that protect data and networks while enabling the increased productivity and flexibility that telework affords.”
Overall, IT professionals appear confident in their organizations’ IT security measures. Eighty-four percent of Federal IT professionals and 88 percent of private-sector IT professionals said their organization’s IT security procedures and systems are effective. Fifty-six percent of Federal agencies and 74 percent of private-sector employers authenticate teleworkers separately from the remote computers they use, ensuring that they know not only what devices are accessing their networks, but also who is at the keyboard. Moreover, nearly 70 percent of Federal and private-sector employers are providing the computers and other equipment teleworkers use, adding an additional measure of control.
Despite those security protections, the survey revealed a gap in awareness that could introduce security weaknesses: 21 percent of Federal employees and 31 percent of private-sector employees say they are not aware of their organization’s corporate security policies, potentially opening the door to behaviors that risk security breaches.
The value of telework to continuity of operations is clear, with more than half of Federal employees who can continue working during a disruption indicating that they are eligible to telework. In the private sector, the benefit is even more dramatic, with more than 70 percent of employees who can continue working indicating that their company has a telework program.
“The private sector is solidly embracing telework. Continuity of operations alone could justify the investment, and improved employee satisfaction is icing on that cake,” says Ken Grimsley, vice president of strategic sales for CDW. “Still, many businesses remain unprepared for recovery from disruptions or are failing to take advantage of affordable, advanced security technologies that are justifiable even without telework. We have a long way to go.”