Private-sector support for telecommuting grows

Published 2 April 2008

Heightened concerns about traffic congestion, air pollution, and gasoline prices — and worries about business continuity — increase the attraction of telecommuting; new CDW report reveals that support for telecommuting grows, but is offset by security concerns

Vernon Hills, Illinois-based research firm CDW Corporation yesterday shared the findings of its fourth annual telework survey. According to the national survey of employees and information technology (IT) professionals in the private sector and the federal government, private-sector employers have taken significant steps to expand telecommuting initiatives since a year ago, and private-sector telecommuting adoption is approaching the federal level, with 14 percent of private-sector employees telecommuting, compared to 17 percent of federal employees. The CDW survey shows that 76 percent of private-sector employers now provide technical support for remote workers, up 27 percentage points over 2007. Federal agencies remain strong advocates for telecommuters, with 56 percent of federal IT professionals indicating that their agencies provide IT support for telecommuters. Since 2005 federal IT support for telecommuting, also called telework, has grown 23 percent, according to a year-over-year trend analysis of telework survey data. “The private sector is solidly embracing telework. Continuity of operations alone could justify the investment, and improved employee satisfaction is icing on that cake,” said Ken Grimsley, vice president of strategic sales for CDW. “Still, many businesses remain unprepared for recovery from disruptions or are failing to take advantage of affordable, advanced security technologies that are justifiable even without telework. We have a long way to go.”

IT professionals in both sectors say security is their top concern about telework, with 42 percent of federal IT professionals and 27 percent of private-sector IT professionals indicating that it is their most pressing challenge. Overall, IT professionals appear confident in their organizations’ IT security measures. Eighty-four percent of federal IT professionals and 88 percent of private-sector IT professionals said their organization’s IT security procedures and systems are effective. Fifty-six percent of federal agencies and 74 percent of private-sector employers authenticate telecommuters separately from the remote computers they use, ensuring that they know not only what devices are accessing their networks, but also who is at the keyboard. Moreover, nearly 70 percent of federal and private-sector employers are providing the computers and other equipment that telecommuters use, adding an additional measure of control. Despite these security protections, the survey uncovered a gap in awareness that could introduce security weaknesses: 21 percent of Federal employees and 31 percent of private-sector employees say they are not aware of their organization’s corporate security policies, potentially opening the door to behaviors that risk security breaches.

Heightening concerns with traffic congestion,