A new survey finds that 82 percent of Federal IT decisionmakers expect the majority of the work week to consist of telework even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. The survey also finds decisionmakers still face challenges in managing systems and cybersecurity.

The survey, released by Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) today, found that among 300 C-level executives, 56 percent say telework is beneficial for productivity, and only 16 percent find it harmful to productivity. While funding issues did not emerge as a major concern for most people surveyed, SAIC found agencies that received funding through the CARES Act were better at collaborating than agencies that did not. Overall, “nearly three quarters” of people gave their agency an “A” or “B” grade for their pandemic response, according to the survey.

“The pandemic has changed government operations, with digital transformation now viewed as essential,” said Mark Forman, vice president of digital government strategy at SAIC. “The work environment of the future will be built around secure online access to data, applications, and collaboration tools.”

Looking towards the future, respondents noted that while they already averaged two days of telework before the pandemic, they expected an increase that would make telework the new normal for the work week; 41 percent expected to telework three days a week, and another 41 percent expected that number to increase to four or five days a week.

The remote work experience hasn’t been all increased productivity and support, however.

Looking at challenges during the pandemic, 77 percent cited the struggle to manage IT systems to permit the influx of telework, and 74 percent pointed to the task of defending against cyberattacks. The current most widespread moderate or serious IT problem is the need to accommodate the large number of teleworking employees (53 percent), followed by the heightened risk of security breaches by malicious actors (48 percent) and the lack of appropriate teleconferencing software (48 percent).

However, SAIC warned that this may not reflect the importance of cybersecurity. “In our view, the respondents may be overly optimistic on the magnitude of the challenge. Threats and vulnerabilities will evolve with the change to more virtual work environments, such as security concerns with worker-supplied user devices and home networks,” the report states.

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MeriTalk Staff