Mobility, BYOD Benefit Federal Workforce: MeriTalk

Federal employees are unplugging from their desktops and using mobile devices to connect to work, but technological hurdles impede forward progress.

Federal agencies and taxpayers benefit from a mobile federal workforce, but outdated infrastructure hinders mobile potential and productivity gains, according to the results of a survey by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT.

The study, underwritten by data and storage networking solutions specialist Brocade, indicated federal employees are taking advantage of the flexibility mobility offers, with 81 percent of federal employees surveyed connecting to work remotely at least once a week, while 54 percent connect at least once a day, and 45 percent connect several times a day.

"Federal employees are increasingly unplugging from their desktops and using mobile devices to connect to work," Anthony Robbins, vice president of Brocade’s federal division, said in a statement. "Not only is mobile connectivity what federal workers want, it can provide substantial productivity gains to federal agencies. Just as large commercial companies have been doing for years, agencies should enable mobile connectivity. They need to embrace the growth in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend by investing in and deploying modern infrastructure improvements that deliver seamless connectivity, improved access and increased speed of service."

As a result of mobile access, 45 percent of federal workers say they work more efficiently, 34 percent say they feel more available to their team, 28 percent say they feel more tuned in, and 28 percent say they collaborate with colleagues more frequently.

Federal workers estimate they would gain an average of seven hours of additional productivity per week by having seamless remote connectivity and mobile access to their agency. The report said this equates to 364 additional hours of productivity or nearly $14,000 in productivity gains per federal employee per year.

To become more efficient, 54 percent of federal workers recommend seamless connectivity to work regardless of location, 51 percent recommend improved network access, and 51 percent recommend fast service. Survey results indicated mobile connectivity is important to federal workers, with more than half saying they would be willing to trade their desktop computer, happy hour or dessert for seamless remote connectivity and mobile access.

However, achieving these additional productivity gains is not without challenges as outpaced infrastructure is limiting federal workers’ mobility and connection options. It’s not just limited to technological hurdles--although just 56 percent of federal workers say they feel most productive while physically at a desk, 82 percent spend the bulk of their day there.

Four out of five feds (82 percent) said they are frustrated with their agency’s current connectivity and mobile access offerings. The top frustrations include slow connection (65 percent), cumbersome security procedures (57 percent) and limited network access (43 percent). Additionally, limited infrastructure is hindering federal workers, with 70 percent saying they cannot access all the information they need remotely.