Telework Taking Hold Among Feds, but Security, Policy Required

    It’s growing more common to see notices such as the one Thursday that the Office of Personnel Management announced that workers could telework (or take unscheduled leave) ahead of a snowstorm due to hit the D.C. area.

    Though the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 was expected to get the federal government up to speed on remote work, it’s been slow going in most agencies, with only a small percentage of eligible workers taking advantage of the opportunity.

    A Jan. 15 report from the Telework Exchange, however, found that three out of four federal employees work on mobile devices for an average of nine hours a week. The report estimates the productivity gained from that access as worth $28 billion a year.

    That based on a survey of 300 federal employees across the various agencies. Ninety-five percent said they believe the mobile devices improve their work and 55 percent work on their own devices, reports Federal Computer Week.

    The troubling part is that 1 in 3 respondents who use their own smartphones for work does not use password protection. Forty-two percent of respondents said they store email or other work data on their personal devices.

    And just 11 percent of those who use their personal devices at work say their agencies have BYOD policies in place. Even so, 80 percent said they have reviewed written mobile device security information and 74 percent have participated in mobile device security training within the last year.

    A separate FCW story focuses on the Department of Agriculture, which has updated its decade-old telework policy and set what it calls an “aggressive” goal of having 55 percent of its eligible work force working remotely at least part of the time during the next year.

    It says it saved $8 million in transportation subsidies to employees during fiscal year 2012.

    It quotes Mika Cross, work/life and wellness program manager for the USDA’s Office for Human Resource Management, as saying:

    Consistency and policy implementation have been challenges for quite some time in figuring out how to leverage mobility and mobile work for the federal workforce. … It’s a challenge, but we’re improving.

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