I.T. Struggles to Manage Telecommuting, Decentralized Structure

By Kevin Fogarty  |  Posted 2008-04-02 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A deep sense of insecurity is holding corporate America back from fulfilling its earnest desire to work from home once in a while.

 

According to a recent study released by CDW, 76 percent of private-sector companies support some telecommuting, but security remains a concern. While 27 percent of the 452 private-sector IT people polled said security was their primary concern about telecommuting policies and technology, 42 percent of the 539 federal workers polled said the same thing.

“Last year the security component wasn’t as pronounced, even though it was still the No. 1 concern,” says Firooz Ghanbarzadeh, director of technology, services and solutions at CDW. “It became a bigger issue this year as people heard about laptops going missing and other events.”

A high percentage 88 percent in the private sector and and 84 percent, in the public sector said their security procedures were consistent and effective.

Congress encouraged federal agencies to adopt telecommuting starting in 2005 to reduce traffic, to increase the government’s ability to function—even if a particular facility were offline—and to reduce office-space requirements.

Telecommuting is an attractive enough option that half the federal employees and 40 percent of private-sector workers said it would influence their decision to take or keep a job.

Currently, 46 percent of private-sector employees can work from home during a disruption at the office. Only 59 percent of federal workers said the same, largely because managers had made many ineligible for telecommuting. In last year’s poll, 75 percent of federal workers said they could function from home in an emergency, according to the CDW survey.

Despite the high percentage of IT managers concerned about security, 31 percent of private-sector employees said they’re not aware of their company’s security arrangements; 21 percent of federal employees said the same.

The inconsistency may be that virtual private networks, network firewalls, client-side security agents and other measures are simply invisible to employees, but it’s far more likely that they haven’t been trained in remote-access security, says Steven Ostrowski, director of communications at industry group Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTia), which published a similar study last fall. 



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