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Patent and Trademark CIO Shares Teleworking Best Practices

Patent and Trademark Office CIO John B. Owens, Photo: uspto.gov

So now that telework is a done deal, with President Barack Obama having signed the Telework Improvement Act just a few weeks ago, many agencies now wonder how to best implement it smartly into the workplace.

Some critics of the initial legislation feared it would be a costly endeavor, creating an expensive new layer of needed technology.

But, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, known for its good ideas, says “not so fast,” to the naysayers.

Writing a guest spot on InformationWeek’s website, John B. Owens, PTO chief information officer, said his agency has come up with a simple, cost-effective solution: allowing teleworking employees to connect to office desktops using their own hardware.

More than 350 PTO employees have been able to telework, who, because of budgetary constraints would not otherwise have been able to do so, he said.

That’s because letting employees use their own hardware reduces the cost to $105 per employee compared to the nearly $3,000 to supply every employee with the proper gear.

The $105 covers authorization, training, a SecurID token for VPN access and collaboration tools, including video, voice, chat, whiteboard and document sharing, Owens wrote.

Teleworkers use the agency’s Enterprise Remote Access portal to connect to work servers.

In the now-ended debate over teleworking, perhaps too much time was spent discussing technology, he suggested.

“Process and training are as important as technology,” he explained. “The agency has an enterprise-wide telework policy that lays out standards of conduct and confidentiality requirements that must be met, regardless of where official duties are performed.”

For the complete list of lessons learned, visit Owens’ InformationWeek column.

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One comment

  1. Excellent approach. I wonder if the agency’s enterprise-wide telework policy is available to the public. Would be interesting to know if others are using an effective cost cutting approach like the one at the patent office.

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