Feds like BYOD so much they’d consider paying their agency to update their devices

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Government employees estimate they gain nine hours per week in productivity.

Editor's note: Brittany Ballenstedt will be on maternity leave until mid-February. 

The majority of federal employees believe that mobile devices are making them more productive, so much so that many of them are using their own personal devices for work, even if their agencies lack of an official bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, policy, according to a new report.

Employees also are willing to work with agencies to make sure their devices are secure: 57 percent of those surveyed said they would consider paying their agency to have their personal device updated or certified as safe. 

The 2013 Digital Dilemma Report, released Tuesday by Telework Exchange, found that 95 percent of the 300 federal employees surveyed believe their work has improved as a result of having access to mobile devices.

Feds cited increased productivity (76 percent), improved communication with colleagues (61 percent), better customer service (62 percent) and increased collaboration (47 percent), as the main reasons for the improvement in their work. And that improvement is having an impact for agencies, particularly in terms of cost savings, with feds saying they gain nine hours per week in estimated productivity, equating to $28 billion, the survey found.

The most popular mobile devices were laptops (93 percent), followed by smartphones (64 percent) and tablets (19 percent). And those devices are not necessarily issued by their agency: 55 percent of feds who use smartphones or tablets for work bring their own, the study found.

Despite more feds using their own devices for work purposes, most agencies still do not have an official BYOD policy in place. Sixty-one percent of feds surveyed said their agency does not have an official BYOD policy in place, while 11 percent said their agency does have such a policy and 28 percent were unsure. Security is a major concern, as one in three BYOD users do not have password protection on their smartphones, the study found.

“My government laptop is down so much that I often do government work on my personal laptop, which I’m sure doesn’t meet security requirements,” one survey respondent said.

The report recommended that agencies begin recognizing that employees are using personal devices for work and develop guidelines for employees to follow. Telework Exchange also recommended that agencies test a pilot BYOD program and enforce regulations to ensure data and network security. Agencies also may benefit from looking at the BYOD examples at other agencies, particularly at the Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Interior, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Defense departments.