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FCW : April 15, 2013
elework has become in- creasingly popular in govern- ment over the past several years, mostly due to the potential for cost savings, better employee satisfaction and less pollution. Ari- zona, for example, started telework- ing in 1989, and today, more than 17 percent of the state's workforce in Maricopa County work remotely. And yet some experts say that most government agencies have not realized telework's full poten- tial, especially when it comes to business continuity planning. "I haven't always seen busi- ness continuity as a main driver for telework, but I can't imagine a business continuity plan without telework as an essential part of it," says Vanessa Godshalk, managing director for talent and organization in Accenture's federal practice. "It helps build resilience in your organization when your people can work anywhere, anytime." There are exceptions, of course. According to a November 2012 memorandum, of cials in Montgom- ery County, Md., identi ed business continuity planning as an impetus for adopting telework. Likewise, Te xas health and human services agencies are considering expanding their telework policy, citing business continuity as a major bene t. The agencies that are most suc- cessful in using telework when disas- ter strikes are those that take business continuity into consideration when developing their telework policies and infrastructure. They implement the technology and policies necessary, they make telework part of the fabric of the agency, and they put their tech- nology and plans to the test. On the technology side, that means ensuring that all employees have some type of mobile device. The move toward notebooks in the of ce is a good example, but increasingly employees are using smartphones or tablets for work pur- poses as well. If they are expected to use these devices from home, it's important not only to have a secure network but policies that stipulate what data and applications employ- ees can access depending on how they are connecting to the network. A uni ed communications infra- structure can be invaluable, letting people can virtually check in and communicate through whatever means are available at the time, whether that is email, text, landline, video chat or cellphone. Collabora- tion tools, built on that infrastruc- ture, can enable meetings to con- tinue as usual, even if everybody is in a different location. On-demand services also are useful in this scenario. Desktop virtualization, for example, allows employees to access their personal desktops, along with their appli- cations and data, remotely. The settings and data are streamed to whatever device is being used. Finally, it is important to change the perception of telework from one of simply convenience and cost savings to business continuity. "Don't underestimate the man- agement and cultural challenges that still exist," Godshalk says. "There are still a lot of people who are very uncomfortable manag- ing in this model, and that has to change for it to work as a busi- ness continuity strategy. It forces management to think about how to plan work differently." Sponsored Report BUSINESS CONTINUITY Telework ready for starring role in continuity plans FULL REPORT ONLINE Go to FCW.com/2013BusinessContinuity 2. Business continuity: It begins with a plan 3. When it comes to networking, plan for the worst 4. Cloud: Tailor-made for continuity planning 5. 21st century comms bring opportunities, pitfalls Other Business Continuity Report Articles
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