Survey shows feds still favor laptops over smart phones, tablets

Despite the growing surge of tablets and other smart devices, the majority of federal employees still use their laptops for work purposes, according to new research.

IT solutions provider CDW Government LLC’s Feb. 7 report surveyed 414 federal employees and IT staff and examined current trends in mobility, how agency IT professionals manage mobile devices, and what they are doing to protect government data.


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The survey found that more than half of government workers use at least one mobile device at work, and many are using their own devices for work purposes. Sixty percent of federal employees indicated their go-to device was the laptop, followed by the smart phone, chosen by 36 percent. Only 9 percent said they use a tablet to do work-related tasks. 

Asked why they use their mobile device for work, 64 percent cited the ability to work while traveling on agency business as the primary reason. Being available 24/7 in the case of emergency (56 percent) and increased productivity (44 percent) also ranked high among respondents.

Although federal IT professionals have developed or recommended work-related mobile apps, few are actually using them. Only 12 percent of those federal employees who use a mobile device for work say they have downloaded a work-related mobile app. One respondent expressing his or her preference for a useful app described one that could “instantly send photos of a work site situation/progress directly to supervisors back at the office.”

The survey also revealed that most government agencies are taking steps to implement mobile data security policies, which is good news considering nearly one-fifth of the polled federal IT workers use their mobile devices to access classified information.

However, a large number of agencies still neglect to use security measures outside of encryption and multifactor authentication. Less than 40 percent use data loss prevention software, and only 31 percent deploy remote control/administration.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Sat, Feb 11, 2012

because laptops have keyboards? With all due respect, if you can do what you need with a tablet or smartphone, you are either a boss simply approving stuff, or a drone getting your next assignment. You are not doing production work.

Wed, Feb 8, 2012

What you have to realize is that they use their laptop because the applications that they use have not been created for use on tablets or smartphones. Once applications are created to be used on these devices I'm sure they will start using them.

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