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The Next Big Thing in Telework

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As agencies look to the next phase of telework implementation, one area dominates the conversation: BYOD, or bring your own device, strategies.

Cindy Auten, general manager at Telework Exchange, told Wired Workplace BYOD was perhaps the hottest topic at last week’s semi-annual Telework Town Hall meeting, with tech experts from agencies such as the Transportation Department and NASA weighing in on the future of mobile work and the growth of BYOD.

“The BYOD conversation was, I think, in every discussion on the technology side,” Auten said. “Across the board, it’s not a matter of if they’re doing it, it’s when they’re doing it.”

On Wednesday, I wrote about a couple of recent surveys that suggested federal agencies have more relaxed BYOD policies than their counterparts in the private sector. For example, 60 percent of federal IT professionals said there are no restrictions on the types of personal mobile devices employees can use to access their agencies’ networks.

A separate survey of the private sector, meanwhile, found just 33 percent of tech professionals said employees are able to access corporate networks using personal devices. Auten said it appears that roughly half of federal agencies are embracing BYOD, with some agencies further along than others.

“I think they’re being really careful about managing the risk of BYOD while also wanting to give employees the flexibility of that option,” she said. “I think they’re cautiously optimistic and are moving forward with ways they can do it.”

Eighty percent of the workforce at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, for example, is no longer working in a traditional office environment anymore, Auten said, so the agency is now looking at how they can evolve their technology tools and incorporate mobile devices and BYOD into their telework strategy, Auten said.

Some agencies are incorporating telework into their hiring strategies so they can hire the right person regardless of where they’re located, Auten said. At the same time, agencies have had to develop a telework policy that effectively sets up work expectations and develops key performance management tools for employees, she said.

“The challenges are still getting senior level managers on board, getting middle managers comfortable with how they’re managing their employees and doing the data collection and making sure agencies can measure the success of their program appropriately,” Auten said.

Going forward, Auten said the major telework trends at federal agencies will be focused on how telework can meet the agency’s mission and generate savings. “We’ll hear a lot more about how agencies can have some really big monetary savings,” she said. “Hoteling is becoming a lot more of the norm as agencies can give up their office space, and the savings are in the millions.”

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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