Photo credit: Amancay Maahs via Photopin (cc)

Photo credit: Amancay Maahs via Photopin (cc)

Federal workers who take advantage of mobile technologies at the office see an average productivity gain worth $14,000 a year, according to a new study.

The “Feds on the Go: Network Needs for Maximum Mobility” report, conducted by online community provider MeriTalk, highlighted how many government employees are being held back by outdated IT infrastructure.

Meritalk, whose professional communities cater to federal tech workers, also found that although many organizations are making improvements to their mobility, progress is still held back by the limitations of existing solutions.

Additional hours

Researchers said giving government workers better mobile tools allowed them to choose when and where they work, connecting to the office from outside the office. Some 81 percent of respondents worked remotely at least once a week, while the average worker spent an additional nine hours a week responding to email, on top of their normal working hours.

Greater access to portable technologies is key. Currently, 88 percent of federal employees use laptops, 53 percent access work software with smartphones, and 19 percent use tablets.

“Federal employees are increasingly unplugging from their desktops and using mobile devices to connect to work,” said Anthony Robbins, vice-president of Federal at networking vendor Brocade, which underwrote the study. “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.”

Telecommuting bill

The benefits of telecommuting and flexible working are increasingly being recognized by federal authorities, as well as lawmakers in Congress. Pennsylvania representative Mike Fitzpatrick recently introduced a bill to the House that will aim to encourage the use of technologies such as video conferencing to cut down on travel expenses within government agencies.

This strategy does not apply only to government organizations, however. Enterprises across all sections of the economy are also likely to see similar results from embracing mobility and enjoyed the associated productivity benefits this can provide.

They must remember that it is not just the hardware that they need to focus on in order to make this strategy succeed. Having the right applications and infrastructure to enable easy communication and collaboration when on the move is also essential if businesses are to make the most of the technology that is available to them.

Frequent collaboration

Nearly half of the federal managers polled in the study (45 percent) said greater mobility has allowed them to work more efficiently. Roughly 34 percent reported that this connectivity made them more available to their team, while 28 percent stated they were able to collaborate with colleagues more frequently.

But there are several difficulties that these personnel frequently encounter that prevent them from making the most of their mobile capabilities. Among these was an inability to access all the information they need remotely—cited by 70 percent of respondents.

Other challenges include slow connections, which affect 65 percent of workers, cumbersome security processes (57 percent) and limited network access (43 percent).