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Broad Support for Telecommuting, Study Finds

A study investigating home computer use for work purposes, known as "telecommuting" or "telework," found support for the practice in both private business and government sectors. Private-sector telework adoption (14 percent) is approaching the rate of adoption by federal employees (17 percent), according to CDW Government Inc.'s fourth annual telework survey.

This survey included more than 1,800 federal government and private-sector employees and IT professionals across the United States.

IT departments have been supporting the move to telecommuting. The study found that "76 percent of private-sector employers provide technical support for remote workers" -- a 27 percentage-point increase over the 2007 figure. On the federal agency side, "56 percent of federal IT professionals" provided such support. Since 2005, federal IT support has grown 23 percent, CDW-G reported.

Government IT support for telework is mandated by law, according to CDW-G's report. However, the eligibility of government employees to do telework has slipped. The study found federal employee eligibility for telework at 40 percent, dipping from a high of 55 percent in 2006. IT security concerns may be the reason for this change, according to the report.

Security remains as the top telecommuting issue for 42 percent of federal IT professionals. In the private sector, just 27 percent of respondents saw security as the top issue, according to the study.

"More stringent IT security policies are controlling telework expansion in the federal government," explained Andy Lausch, senior director of federal sales for CDW-G, in a prepared statement.

The majority of IT professionals said their security measures are effective, with 84 percent of federal IT professionals and 88 percent private-sector IT professionals saying so.

IT professionals used authentication separately from the remote computers to enable telework. This practice was carried out by 56 percent of federal agencies and 74 percent of private-sector employers.

Some teleworkers were unaware of their organization's security policies The survey found lack of awareness among 21 percent of federal employees and 31 percent of private-sector employees.

Reasons to telecommute include reducing traffic congestion and avoiding rising gasoline prices. It can also spur employee recruitment and ensure continuity of operations during disasters, the study suggested.

"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, in a prepared statement.

A downloadable copy of the report is available at here (registration required).

About the Author

This article is courtesy of Enterprise Systems. James E. Powell is editorial director of ESJ.com.

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