Does the Federal Government Still Need Desktops?

Two weeks ago, the Government Services Administration (GSA) unveiled a groundbreaking new policy that strives to make mobility and telework essential practices in the 21st century Federal workplace. The “Mobility and Telework” policy, signed on Oct. 31 by GSA Administrator, Martha Johnson, makes telework possible for most of the agency’s employees and serves as inspiration for other agencies to follow suit.

As the GSA prepares itself to be a model for other government agencies, it appears that telework is part of a greater movement to create spending efficiencies and increase employee productivity. In an executive order from November 9th, President Obama called for agencies to explore opportunities for cost reduction, specifically in the areas of travel and information technology (IT). The directive does not look for across-the-board cuts in IT, but rather it looks for agencies to invest more strategically in IT. In these times of budget constraints, the President is looking for opportunities to reduce some technology redundancies, from limiting the number of mobile phones employees are issued to duplicative software.

In the President’s order, telework was specifically called out as an example of a trend driving agencies to evaluate their IT practices. As telework becomes a standard practice, the need for desktop computers diminishes. A question arises: does the Federal Government still need desktop computers? Mobile computers allow for the vision of anywhere, anytime work for virtually all Federal employees and diminishes the concern of lost hours spent commuting.

There are also efficiencies on the IT side. Technologies, such as desktop virtualization, move management of each employee endpoint from the desktop to the datacenter. These moves make it easier for IT departments to maintain PCs and conduct major upgrades, giving IT departments more time to spend on strategic initiatives.

So, are desktop computers relics of an ancient way of work? For some, the answer is yes, and these organizations will shift quickly to new mobile technologies.

But, as more and more organizations shift to telework, we should realize that work environments will, and must, change with the times. Mobile computers have to be flexible and adaptable in various usage scenarios. Some employees will work in a comfortable home office , while others will have the unpredictability of accessing information from the road or in the field.  However, the one constant, regardless of one’s work environment, is the requirement of reliability.

Recognizing all of the varied work conditions, Panasonic delivers a broad range of mobile computers, designed to offer zero compromise between performance and mobility. For example, our semi-rugged Panasonic Toughbook® 53 laptop,. With a 14.1” HD LED display, the latest Intel® Core™ processors and an oversized multi touch touchpad, it performs like a desktop.  And, with options like a sunlight-viewable touchscreen and 4G LTE mobile broadband, it the most versatile semi-rugged PC for mobile workers.

“Work is what we do, not where we are,” said GSA Administrator Johnson. The GSA and many other government agencies are empowering their employees and embracing telework.  Is Telework part of your company’s policy? Share your thoughts with us.