While the development and implementation of a telecommute programs can at first seem overwhelming to a business endeavoring to do so, this alternative work arrangement offers a significant return on investment when implemented well.
Regence-Blue Shield knows the success of telework all too well. A leader in telework among downtown Tacoma businesses and beyond, 500 of their 6,300 employees across four Western states work remotely. Their program informally began in the late 90s, and eventually grew into a formal program with three telework options: full-time telecommuter, part-time telecommuter, and remote, which allows exempt employees to work from home when snowbound, ill, or in need of a quiet environment.
Regence (in line with many, many scholarly studies) has found that telework increases employee productivity and morale. As well, full-time teleworkers bring with them the cost-savings perk of not having to maintain additional office space.
Regence knows that telework is not for every employee, and stresses that it should be portrayed not as an employee benefit, but as an alternate work arrangement. Employees chosen for telework should have the desire to work from home, the discipline to do so, and be outgoing and engaged enough to stay connected to the company despite their remote work location. Their prior performance should indicate potential for future telework success, and clear performance expectations, monitoring, and communication should be arranged between managers and their telecommuting employees.
Telework success has prompted Regence to expand and improve its telework program, and they expect to invest even more into home office technology. As Connie Schwepe of Regence notes, “Creating a virtual team where everyone can participate equally via conference calls, etc. is a challenge that we hope to mitigate with collaborative meeting tools and other technologies.”
If you are interested in the potential for a telework program in your business, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for resources and additional support from Downtown: On the Go!.