IT Seen Distrusting Remote Workers


Telecommuters are a growing bunch. By the year 2011, the number of worldwide remote workers is expected to surpass 46 million, according to Gartner.

Businesses aren't complaining--remote workers help companies improve efficiency and competitive advantage. But some new data should give CIOs and their colleagues a moment of pause.

A new study conducted for Cisco by InsightExpress, released Tuesday, finds that a majority of IT departments think their telecommuters are becoming more lax in their online existence. And remote workers themselves say as much.

Why? For starters, 60 percent of U.S. telecommuters (and 56 percent worldwide) think the Internet became safer in 2007 than in the previous year. And that led to some relaxing of the usual Web-based vigilance. For example, staggeringly high numbers of telecommuters worldwide said they open emails and attachments from unknown senders and use corporate resources for personal play, like online shopping and social networking.

Cisco says IT departments need to go beyond tech tactics to influence security protocols and encourage more education, training and awareness of outside threats. Not a bad idea, since the number of remote workers will continue to grow rapidly--but maybe not as much as the growth of internal and external network threats.

(This is the second black eye for telecommuting this year: last month, a Reuters story highlighted how the existence of telecommuting leaves many office-bound employees unhappy.)

I'm interested to hear from the telecommuters out there. Do you feel like your security concerns have waned?

And what about the IT executives? Are your telecommuters spurring security problems for your company?


12 Comments for "IT Seen Distrusting Remote Workers"

  • foo bar February 29, 2008 11:43 pm

    all of the 'concerns' mentioned about telecommuters hold for in-office staff. in fact, as one comment said, most office environments are full of non-work activity using company resources. the really maddening is that the very same managers and execs who dont 'trust' telecommuters have no qualms about sending work halfway around the world to places where english is barely spoken, if at all, basic infrastrucutre (like electicity) is unreliable, and no controls are in place for intellectual property or privacy protections, just to be able to create the illusion of short term cost savings.

  • John Feeney February 12, 2008 4:46 pm

    Virtual workers have a responsibility and should be held accountable. VMs need to step forward in character an embrace the opportunity by taking this technology to the next level. Some companies have a long way to go in not seeing employees in a physical area. But that is why we invented cameras. Today's management will require one's ability to work with VMs. Why not have a notebook/camera/wireless/smartphone near a hot spot in a 18'ft Walleye boat fishing with your wife and closing service contracts? She gets into Bluegill, I better have lights...

  • Margaret Rouse February 12, 2008 11:57 am

    Anyone want to bet that Cisco will come up with another "solution" for educating employees? This study sounds more like a PR release for a Cisco Security Awareness School or some other new security product than an independent study. Ironically, the next article I clicked into on the site was about managers not paying enough attention to employee talent management.

  • bill February 11, 2008 3:28 pm

    Security is always a concern. I do not believe that users open more attachments, etc. from unknown users. IT departments must have a remote-management capability to ensure the integrity of their remote systems, regardless of standard image build. Having tools to be able to force AV scans, push patches and updates, restart services that savvy users may turn off and so on certainly helps. The key is that this must be an internet based solution, not one that functions only when logged on to the company network. Mobile workers have always been a challenge, and always will be unless I, as a manager, can reach out and remotely touch that PC, anytime, anywhere, regardless of connection to my network. With wireless connections everywhere these days, it becomes even more imperative. Teleworking is great and its benefits outweigh the challenges.

  • Senior Programmer Analyst February 11, 2008 1:49 pm

    As a state service IT telecommuter, I have been proven the most productive developer in a group of 10 developers throughout my 15-yearr IT career. I feel jealousy from my co-workers as well as my supervisor and I think because of this I am treated unfairly with regard to workload. All new development projects are assigned to me. I always have at least two projects in progress and three to four lined up waiting. I am working at home taking part in the Disabilities Act provision for reasonable accommodations. I provide all of the resources I consume in my job except the use of an under-powered notebook PC I use to write code. When I do go into the office for meetings, etc., I am harassed by fellow workers, with comments like, 'do you still work here?', 'Decided to come in huh?', 'Must be nice not having to work for a living!', etc. The state IT office I work for is a party environment for emails regarding birthdays, promotions, employees' baby showers, marriage engagements and so on. If the taxpayers knew, they would be astounded at the waste of their tax dollars. In my 15 years of state service, office productivity is at an all time low. Standing around chatting, shopping online and taking personal calls with loud talking, two-hour lunches, long walks along the riverfront are commonplace and acceptable practice.

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