Cabinet has approved the Telecommuting/Work-from-Home Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Guidelines, which complement Government’s recently introduced Flexible Work Arrangements Policy.
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology (MIST), Charley Browne, said the work from home guidelines, which were recently signed off on, had been developed to ensure public officers and employees of statutory corporations know the dos and don’ts when working remotely.
In underscoring the importance of these guidelines, which were created by MIST, Mr. Browne stated: “The guidelines will ensure that Government’s systems and information are protected when public officers work away from the office.
“The guidelines will assist Heads of Department with the technological requirements to facilitate work from home. The document stresses that the ministry, department or agency has the responsibility of ensuring that employees have the requisite information technology equipment, software and training to perform duties.”
He added that managers at government entities must make sure their staff members have a clear understanding and agreement of what was expected, including the information security requirements; the approved communication channels; platforms and tools; and the communication and reporting protocols.
“The managers have to ensure that the appropriate safeguards to secure and maintain the confidentiality of files, documents, data, other digital assets and the equipment of the Government are implemented. Additionally, officers have a number of responsibilities, including making sure there is a reliable telephone and high-speed Internet service at home, or the approved remote location where the work of the Government will be conducted,” Mr. Browne explained.
He pointed out that the work from home guidelines were based on existing laws, regulations and security policies, including the Data Protection Act; Computer Misuse Act; the General Orders of Barbados; Mobile Device Policy; Email Policy and Bring Your Own Device Policy.
“The Computer Misuse Act tells users what illegal actions should not be performed using their computer devices, while the Data Protection Act will guide ministries, departments and agencies in what should and should not be done with personal data, which is accessed, processed or stored.
“The Bring Your Own Device Policy covers under what conditions a worker can use his/her personal device to perform Government work, as well as what procedures must be followed by Government’s IT staff to verify that the device meets the security standards,” Mr. Browne explained.
A presentation on the new guidelines has been made to the Committee of Permanent Secretaries and Related Grades and those senior managers have already received a copy of the plan. PS Browne added that the document will soon be shared with the public officers, and MIST will roll out an extensive public relations campaign to sensitise the workers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Browne said MIST was busy implementing a number of transformational projects under Government’s Modernization Programme. They include an e-services platform and e-services; the digitisation of records in the public sector and the implementation of an electronic documents and records management system. In addition, the Ministry is working with the Electoral Department to roll out a new Barbados National Identification Card, which will be a smart card.