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Final Report on Technology Barriers to Home-Based Telework

Conclusions and Recommendations

Overview

Recommendations are primarily directed toward management behavior concerning technology issues impacting telework implementation.

  • Senior management of federal organizations should take a leadership role in promoting the adoption of home-based telework to ensure sufficient support by IT and other functional organizations
  • Information technology requirements for home-based telework should be factored into long range enterprise architecture and capital planning efforts
  • Federal organizations should consider technologies that can better enable telework implementation
  • Broadband residential services should be used to expand telework opportunities and improve overall quality of service
  • Information security assessments should include potential vulnerabilities emerging from home-based telework
  • Effective IT training should be incorporated into federal home-based telework program

Senior Management Involvement

Senior management of Federal organizations should take a leadership role in promoting the adoption of home-based telework to ensure sufficient support by it and other functional organizations.


Conclusions Recommendations
Involvement of top management within specific line organizations has been critical to successful telework implementation


Senior CIO and IT management involvement has been critical to addressing IT needs of telework programs on an ongoing basis
Departments and agencies should provide guidance to senior agency executives to take a leadership role in promoting home-based telework within their organizations

CIOs and IT management should educate other management on how to best leverage information technology to further telework programs and mitigate risk
Realization that the economic benefits of telework can offset or even fully recover any additional IT costs can motivate important stakeholders to contribute to telework implementation efforts Departments and agencies should provide guidance to subordinate organizations to conduct business case analyses to identify full costs and benefits, including IT components, facilities, recruiting, retention, contingency support, and security and risk assessments
Well-structured pilot programs have led to successful telework programs Departments and agencies should provide guidance to subordinate organizations to assist in creating well-structured telework programs, including:
  • Use of pilot programs
  • Training
  • Equipment, services, and support provided to the teleworker
  • Use of employee-owned equipment and services

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IT Planning for Telework

Information technology requirements for home-based telework should be factored into long range enterprise architecture and capital planning efforts.

Conclusions Recommendations
Many organizations are not addressing IT infrastructure needed for home-based telework in their IT spending plans

Home-based telework programs which have been more successful provide funds for teleworker IT equipment and services at the enterprise level
Federal organizations should incorporate requirements for home-based telework into their IT capital planning and budgeting processes

System development and modernization decisions should include support for telework as potential benefits
Home-based teleworkers are often using employee-owned or recycled government equipment, which may not be compatible with the current office desktop environment

The degree of technical support provided to home-based teleworkers varies widely within an agency

IT management involved in successful telework implementations align standards for the home IT environment with the organization's desktop standards
Agencies should define technical requirements for home-based teleworkers as part of their enterprise desktop architecture to ensure availability of end user systems and support services compatible with the office environment
Reliance on employee-owned equipment for home-based telework can impact the effectiveness of teleworkers, particularly when using legacy client-server applications Departments and agencies should clarify policies governing the use of employee-owned or provided equipment and services for government business

Federal organizations allowing use of employee-owned equipment should define standards and configuration requirements that must be met by the home system in order to support home-based telework

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IT management should assess the impact of home-based telework technical requirements on a broad range of enterprise architecture components.

  • Performance and usability should be considered when evaluating IT configurations for home-based teleworkers
    • Types of hardware (computers, printers, use of laptops versus desktops)
    • Office automation and workgroup software
  • Technical support for home-based teleworkers may impact how network and desktop configuration management systems should be configured to provide better visibility into employee machines outside the organization's physical network
  • Requirements for connectivity between the home and office environment should address performance, security, and compatibility with the organization/agency network
  • Security requirements should also be considered in the evaluation of intrusion detection, virus protection, and other security measures
  • Performance and usability of legacy applications in the home environment should also be factored into decisions concerning modernization and redesign of existing applications

Federal organizations should consider technologies that can better enable telework implementation.

  • Document management systems
  • Collaboration tools
  • Performance measurement systems
  • Portal delivery tools
  • Authentication tools
  • Secure network technologies
  • Web-based application design

Broadband Services

Broadband residential services should be used to expand telework opportunities and improve overall quality of service.

Conclusions Recommendations
The capacity and performance of the teleworker's connection to the network will be the most important driver of IT service quality for home-based teleworkers

Relatively few teleworkers today are equipped with residential broadband services

Many legacy client server applications supporting Government operations will not work reliably over dial-up connections
Federal IT organizations should identify broadband options for home-based telework to match expected operational requirements of teleworkers (application access requirements, percentage of time spent teleworking)
Successful telework programs have established rules governing the funding of residential broadband services to support telework implementation

Several organizations have been unwilling or unable to pay for certain broadband services
Telework policies should address and clarify government funding of residential broadband services for home-based telework
The ability of broadband service providers to support secure network access services and technologies has not been fully demonstrated in the federal environment

Configuration of residential broadband services for home-based telework will present challenges to agencies and teleworkers as implementation expands
The CIO Council should explore ways to work with the broadband services industry to identify and resolve technical and service issues on an ongoing basis

Government organizations should evaluate all broadband residential service options for potential telework applications
  • To improve availability of broadband service alternatives for teleworkers
  • To ensure these services meet appropriate agency technical and security requirements

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Information Security

Information security assessments should include potential vulnerabilities emerging from home-based telework.

Conclusions Recommendations
Organizations with classified and sensitive information have been able to adequately address security concerns in deployment of successful telework programs

Telework security issues in many federal organizations can be adequately managed as part of a comprehensive information security program

Technology solutions for security vulnerabilities arising from remote network access are available for many federal agencies, but must be applied by organizations to support their specific infrastructure requirements
Federal security policies should specifically address all aspects of remote and Internet access for all applications, including (but not limited to) telework

Federal organizations should ensure that security issues arising from telework are addressed in enterprise-wide IT security assessments and protection plans
Adequate security education of staff is an equally critical element as a secure infrastructure Telework programs should ensure that all teleworkers are educated regularly on information protection procedures and consequences

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Training

Effective IT Training should be incorporated into Federal home-based telework programs.

Federal organizations should assess needs of home teleworkers and incorporate specific IT training targeted to telework programs as necessary
Conclusions Recommendations
Teleworkers often receive little or no specific training concerning the home IT environment

Teleworkers may be more dependent on their home IT environment (desktop computer, network connection) to maintain communications with the rest of the organization than office-based staff

Teleworker training is emphasized in successful telework implementations
Federal organizations should assess needs of home teleworkers and incorporate specific IT training targeted to telework programs as necessary
Federal organizations have explored different approaches to allow teleworkers and managers to remain in contact

Manager concern over teleworker accessibility is an issue facing telework programs
Federal organizations should provide guidelines and training to teleworkers on appropriate procedures to maintain regular, reliable communications with their managers

Federal organizations should consider electronic means to assist teleworkers and managers to stay in contact during the business day (e.g., pagers, cell phones, email)
Employee awareness is a major element of an organization's information security program Federal organizations should provide teleworkers with ongoing training on tools, processes, and procedures concerning information security and vulnerability

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