Feds Gear Up For Mobility Storm

Federal IT professionals are predicting a surge in telework adoption over the next two years, and many say agencies are offering above average IT programs to enable the mobile workforce, according to a new survey by Telework Exchange, Riverbed and Swish Data.

The survey of 152 federal IT professionals in February 2012 found that agencies are prepared for the "mobility storm," with 59 percent saying they expect more regular teleworkers over the next two years and 45 percent saying they expect more part-time mobile workers during that time. Respondents also estimated that mobile device usage will grow by 20 percent between now and 2013.

Federal IT professionals estimated that roughly 21 percent of the federal workforce is teleworking and 22 percent are part-time mobile workers. That is a sharp increase over previous participation levels, which were 5.2 percent in 2009, the most recent year federal telework data is available.

Overall, 85 percent of agencies have a portion of their workforce on telework agreements, and 83 percent of agencies have part-time mobile workers, the study found. The majority (47 percent) of IT professionals grade their agencies as a B on telework readiness, while 18 percent gave their agencies an A grade and 35 percent graded their agency a C or below.

And while many teleworkers are footing the bill for such mobility thanks to the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, trend, 65 percent of federal IT professionals said agencies are still offering above average IT programs to enable telework and the mobile workforce. The top five tools offered by agencies with above average programs were laptops (82 percent), smartphones (54 percent), remote desktop access (43 percent), instant messaging tools (42 percent) and video/Web conferencing (33 percent), the survey found.

But even with more agencies embracing the BYOD concept, most are still not reimbursing teleworkers for work-related tools and technologies. Sixty-four percent of respondents said their agency does not reimburse teleworkers for Internet service expenses, and roughly 60 percent said teleworkers foot the bill for printing supplies and work-related mobile apps.

Meanwhile, more feds are warming up to the idea that telework can actually increase productivity among workers, the study found. For example, when asked about the key drivers for agency telework, 46 percent of respondents said improved workforce productivity and improved employee work/life balance, 31 percent said improved business continuity, 26 percent said reduced IT management costs and 24 percent said improved security.

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