It’s been two years since the Telework Enhancement Act was signed into law, and agencies are now starting to see the benefits that a flexible workforce has on cost cutting and productivity. With more employees working from home, or anywhere besides a central office, the use of personal mobile devices is on the rise. The laptops, smartphones and tablets that employees are using at home are creating a new set of security issues that agencies must consider while weighing the evolution of their telework programs and instituting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
These questions were a topic of discussion at a recent Telework Town Hall Meeting hosted by Telework Exchange. As Cindy Auten, general manager for Telework Exchange told Nextgov, participants were very interested in not only increasing the use of employees’ mobile devices and work outside of the office but also safeguarding the security of those devices:
The focus was on how government agencies can leverage employees’ devices but clearly make them secure where the data resides purely on the government side, perhaps by setting up a wall on these devices.
The government is smart to move from the traditional central office to teleworking, particularly if it increases productivity and forces changes in performance management, as attendees at the town hall insisted it has. The technology to telework is readily available to ease the transition. For example, many employees already own smartphones, and this technology could be the final piece in securing the approval of managers who may be skeptical of telework.
But securing employees’ devices will be a top priority. BYOD is a cost-cutting measure for governments, easing the burden of investing in hardware, but it also potentially leaves data vulnerable. Various recent studies have shown that government-data breaches are often due to the loss or the theft of an employee’s mobile device. Telework and BYOD will have a fine line to walk while government agencies iron out the security issues inherent in mobile devices.