Survey: Security remains a challenge for telecommuting programs

We reported recently on how IT support is critical to successful telecommuting programs. Here’s another key step IT must take when users start to work from home: 

Make sure security precautions are in place.

Many organizations are starting to allow more telecommuting because it can help businesses save money, boost productivity and improve employee morale.

The idea also has a lot of backing within the federal government, as many agencies are starting or expanding telecommuting programs to increase efficiency.

In fact, 65% of federal IT professionals say their agencies offer above average tech support for telecommuters, according to a recent study from the Telework Exchange.

In total, an estimated 21% of the federal employees telecommute, and 22% are part-time mobile workers, according to the survey of 152 federal IT pros. In addition, the majority (59%) of respondents expect the number of regular teleworkers to increase over the next two years.

Among agencies with employees that currently telecommute, the top benefits cited were improved workforce productivity and better employee work/life balance. Respondents also cited improved business continuity and reduced IT management costs.

But along with those benefits, an increase in telecommuting will also come with some significant challenges for IT departments. Their biggest worry: security.

When asked what needed to be improved in their departments to support more telecommuters, the top answer given by federal IT pros was security, cited by 45% of respondents. As more users access data from outside the office, IT must make sure they can do so without jeopardizing the security of that information.

How can organizations do that? The telecommuting security precautions the agencies in the Telework Exchange’s study have taken or plan to take include:

  1. Expanding VPN bandwidth
  2. Making sure data is encrypted while it’s transferred or when it’s held on users’ laptops and mobile devices, and
  3. Using multi-factor authentication for remote network access.


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