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Workers Expect Better Technology When Teleworking
 

By Pete Wolfinger  12/26/2012

People who work from home say they expect to be outfitted with the latest technology in order to work more effectively, according to a new survey.

TeamViewer, which provides remote control and online meetings software, surveyed 500 American adults who work from home either full time or part time. The study was released Dec. 4, 2012.

According to the survey, telecommuters said that their work did not suffer, despite not being in the office, with nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) of telecommuters saying they are equally as or more productive working from home.

While the option to work from the comfort of their home rather than in a cubicle used to be a sufficient alternative work option, nearly 80 percent of survey participants said they now expect advanced technologies to assist them. Specifically, 45 percent said they want to be able to access their computer desktops from home remotely, 44 percent want to be able to access files from mobile devices, 40 percent want the ability to participate in office meetings as if they were in the same room, 39 percent want the ability to print remotely, 38 percent want the ability to work on a document through screen-sharing, and 37 percent want to be able to communicate by video with colleagues and clients.

Security’s an Issue

As more and more employees look to work from home, companies are struggling to ensure the same level of security for sensitive company-specific files and information, experts said.

The biggest security threats companies face are the evolving cyber threats to their information systems—threats that can occur whether employees are working from home or in the office. Cyberattacks are increasing in sophistication. In its September 2012 report on mobile security, the Government Accountability Office found that malware aimed at mobile devices increased by 185 percent between July 2011 and May 2012.

“Because cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, systems to support both traditional and remote workers are—unfortunately—at risk of being compromised. Agencies are extremely cautious about ensuring that systems are in place to protect sensitive, classified data, especially when the data is accessed remotely,” said Cindy Auten, general manager at the Telework Exchange. “In fact, teleworkers usually go through advanced security training and are often better equipped to prevent security breaches than some in-office counterparts.”

Telework Rising

Despite these constant threats, teleworking has become so commonplace that in 2012 more than 71,000 individuals and organizations pledged to telework during Telework Week, according to the Telework Exchange. Collectively, they saved $5.6 million in commuting costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 3,453 tons. The next Telework Week, in which businesses, government agencies and individuals are encouraged to telework rather than come into the office, is slated for March 4-8, 2013.

“With the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act in 2010, and the Obama administration’s increased focus on telework and mobility, we expect that telework will continue to grow toward a culture where it doesn’t matter where employees are located,” Auten said. “Because of increasing access to mobile devices and remote networks, we anticipate that telework will become the norm.”

Even when teleworking is unplanned and occurs out of necessity, it is still effective.

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the East Coast, knocking out power, flooding buildings, blocking roadways and overall making it nearly impossible for people in multiple states to get to the office. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is based in Washington, D.C., is one of many examples of an organization that continued to operate during the storm. The agency reported that more than 900 employees logged on to its virtual private network—more than twice the usual number during a normal week—and business was conducted as usual.

 Pete Wolfinger is a freelance writer for SHRM.

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