Preparing for the Mobile Storm: 65 Percent of Federal Agencies Are Telework IT Ready

— April 17, 2012

Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the tangible value of telework, today announced the results of its " 2012-2013 Telework/Mobile IT Almanac," which provides a snapshot of where Federal agencies stand on enabling remote workers, and delivers a forecast for mobile IT investments. Underwritten by Riverbed Technology and SwishData Corporation, the report reveals that 65 percent of Federal agencies cite above-average IT programs for enabling telework and mobility. Additionally, Federal IT executives expect mobile device use to increase by 20 percent by 2013. To prepare for the mobile storm, agencies are focused on improving and expanding security, networks, and wireless access.
 
"More than half of Federal agencies are making the grade in terms of enabling the growing mobile workforce. They serve as a model for others looking to strengthen their telework programs in the most efficient way possible,” said Cindy Auten, general manager, Telework Exchange. “As the number of teleworkers and mobile workers increases over the next couple of years, it is imperative agencies invest in technology that supports the changing workforce." 
 
Federal IT respondents estimate 21 percent of employees currently telework. Forecasting ahead, 59 percent of respondents expect more regular teleworkers and 45 percent expect more part-time mobile workers in the next two years. 
Driven by improved workforce productivity, agencies must support the most frequently used applications. Agencies with above-average programs – the 65 percent of agencies polled that scored an "A" or "B" in telework IT readiness – noted laptops, smartphones, remote desktop access, instant messaging, and video-Web conferencing as the top five telework-mobility tools.

Teleworkers across all surveyed agencies frequently use applications such as email (91 percent), remote desktops or thin client computing (39 percent), instant messaging (35 percent), and video/Web conferencing (27 percent) to accomplish work remotely. Twenty-two percent of respondents noted that they use agency-developed work-related applications.
 
The report also reveals that employees are willing to invest to reap the benefits and savings associated with telework – 64 percent of agencies do not reimburse teleworkers for Internet service, but 35 percent of the top telework-ready agencies do so fully or partially.
 
"Mobile device use among Federal workers is clearly on the rise," said Bob Kerr, vice president, SwishData Corporation. "Federal agencies are successfully implementing telework polices and the technology infrastructure needed to support remote workers – but there are some areas where agencies can improve. By examining successful telework programs, agencies can make strategic investments while supporting presidential mandates, telework expansion, and mobility."
 
The IT Forecast
 
Agencies expect a strong increase in mobility demands from now until 2013. Despite growth projections for the number of mobile workers and the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), just over half of agencies (54 percent) are currently working on a plan to reduce costs specific to issuing mobile devices in accordance with Executive Order 13589 – Promoting Efficient Spending. To improve telework programs, agencies noted investing in mobile asset management (33 percent), data loss prevention (25 percent), and multi-factor authentication (21 percent). IT professionals are also looking to the cloud to continue to drive telework growth.
 
"To support the top priorities highlighted by agencies – network performance, security, and wireless access – industry and government need to address the performance requirements needed to implement a sustainable IT environment for a successful telework initiative and to meet the mandate for efficient spending," said William Hartwell, general manager and senior director, Federal Markets Division at Riverbed. "As agencies look to mobilize the workforce and support telework programs for increased productivity, it is important to provide an IT infrastructure that meets the demand for delivering mission-critical applications anytime and anywhere, especially as employees will be located farther away from the data, and yet will expect the same, if not better experience while teleworking." 
 
Telework Exchange, Riverbed, and SwishData Corporation executed the online survey in February 2012, collecting data from 152 Federal IT professionals familiar with their agency's telework-mobility technologies and plans. Seventy percent of those surveyed represented Federal civilian and 30 percent represented Department of Defense or intelligence agencies. The full report is available on the Telework Website.

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