Telecommuting

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  • 1. Techniques, Practices, and Policies Paul Gray CIO Breakfast Round Table April 9, 2009
  • 2. Definitions (by Jack Nilles)
    • Telecommuting:
      • Moving the work to the workers instead of moving the workers to work
      • Periodic work out of the central office
      • Working 1 day a week or more at home or in a telework center
    • Teleworking
      • ANY form of substitution of information technologies for work related travel
  • 3. History
    • Early studies at USC, Boeing, UK, Sweden (1969-75)
    • Book: Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoffs: Options for Tomorrow by Nilles, Carlson, Gray, and Hanneman (late 1974)
    • Early approaches were relocating people to multiple locations close to their homes. “Satellite offices”
      • Examples: UK, Sweden
    • It was clear that individuals could also work from their homes even in the technology of the mid-1970’s through telephone modems, paper based printouts (e.g. FAA job)
  • 4. The Last 35 Years
    • Mixed Success and Failure
    • Conferences (e.g. 1995), studies (San Bernardino), experiments, trials, implementations
    • Have learned some things that work and some that don’t
  • 5. Things We Learned
    • It’s easy to get telecommuting wrong (will talk more about that later)
    • Requires careful planning from management and cooperation of all employees
  • 6. Things We Learned-Productivity
    • Telecommuting can increase employee productivity
      • Research shows that telecommuters who are supposed to work at home really DO work (not lounge in PJ’s)often more than their office counterparts
      • Example: American Express found teleworkers produce >40% more business from work at home than workers in office
      • Example:Productivity at British Telecom increased 31% in 9000 workers at home out of 80,000 total employees
      • Example:Caregroup Health Systems found teleworkers are more amenable to overtime than workers in the office
  • 7. Things We Learned: Unusual Teleworkers
    • Concierge at Hyatt-Regency Santa Clara
    • Works from home for last five years to be close to children, avoid 1.5 hour commute
    • Set up webcam on her home computer, TI line from office to home. Webcam on 42-Inch Plasma TV in lobby with webcam
    • Guests see her, she sees guests
    • She sets up restaurants and local attractions online, remotely prints out directions
  • 8. Things We Learned: Saves Money
    • Telecommuting programs save companies money
      • Reduced expenses on real estate, electricity, office supplies
      • Annual savings of $5000/employee claimed. Mostly from consolidating offices and not expanding office space. At IBM 320,000 (25% of total) workers telecommute, saving $570 M in real estate costs
      • Reduced absenteeism. Pays for itself in 3.5 days of work not missed in 1 st year, 1.5 days thereafter
      • Reduces traffic congestion, which reduces travel costs for worker of $1,160/year.
  • 9. Things We Learned: Environment
    • Great way to get credit for helping the environment
      • At least 3.9 M worked from home at least 1 day/week. Implies 2M cars off roads. If all 40-53M who could tele-commute did, equivalent to taking ~25M cars off road.
      • Another estimate is 6 M teleworkers currently, half of whom are self-employed.
  • 10. Things We Learned:An Incentive
    • Attracts and retains workers (not true for all workers)
      • Saves money, car repairs, and commuting headaches
      • A way of rewarding employees without giving raise
      • Way to recruit without adding salary – Robert Half survey of CFO’s: 30% said telecommuting is top benefit, 46% said it is second to money
  • 11. Hoteling
    • Since teleworkers do come into the office, provide them an office when they are there.
    • Concept is called hoteling: In a hotel most rooms are alike. Assign a cubicle with a computer when they arrive. It can be different each time they show up. Have them store their work related materials in a locker. Even provide pictures of the family on their desk when they show up.
  • 12. Things We Learned: Not Everyday…
    • Max 3 days/week. 1 day per week may not pay for itself (Westfall 1999 Claremont dissertation)
    • Telecommuting is not for everybody: Some need the discipline of coming in every day
    • You have to manage remote workers. Keep metrics on their productivity. Don’t assume everything is OK
    • Big managerial concern: are they working?
      • Also true for on-site workers (eg SanBernardino)
  • 13. Things We Learned: Costs
    • Investment in equipment, supplies approx $5000
    • Need to be concerned about whether teleworkplace is safe and meets standards. Consult your firm’s lawyer!
  • 14. Things We Learned-Teleworker Challenges
    • Keeping a high enough profile
    • Not winding up working 24/7
    • Learning of Opportunities for Tasks, Promotions
  • 15. Barriers
    • A Steelcase survey of 700 workers found 46% percent allowed to telecommute and 32% do.
    • But nearly 2/3 of all respondents feared working from home "will hinder chances at promotion due to lack of contact with the employer,”
    • 72% of the respondents feel Steelcase prefers them in the office to control the work environment; 71% said the boss wants them around to prevent productivity decline. 62% believe companies prefer them in the office to prevent a lack of communication.
    • Myths persist that tarnish telecommuting’s reputation.
    • Some individuals struggling with insufficient training or corporate-cultural barriers preventing them from being good telecommuters, working effectively with far-flung peers, or sufficiently managing subordinates who do their jobs from home.
    • Source: FUD Tarnishes the Telecommuting Experience. InfoWeek 8-11-08 Ted Samson
  • 16. A Telecommute Calculator
    • On Website of “Undressed for Success” by Lister and Harnish (Wiley 2009)
    • Shows for a particular location, what can be saved with telework
    • Handout for Irvine
    • Numbers are huge
  • 17. Example: Rick Blythe - BW 10-17-08
  • 18. Example: BW Small Business -10-17-08
  • 19. Technology
    • Technology is now easier with
      • Wireless computing
      • Collaboration software
      • Broadband (including Skype and video) for 2-person or more meetings
    • Cisco developed a “remote office in a box” to get teleworkers connected and up and running
    • Systems for presenting multiple screens for teleconferencing
    • Source: Ted Sampson “In Defense of Telecommuting” April 2, 2009 URL:http://www.infoworld.com/d/green-it/in-defense-telecommuting-998
  • 20. Polycom HDX 9000
  • 21. Security
    • 4 Telecommuting (and Road-Warrior)Mistakes:
      • Careless use of WiFi and accessing unsecured networks
      • Letting family and friends use work-issued devices
      • Altering security settings for web sites that have been blocked by the company
      • Leaving work-issued devices in an unsecured place
      • Source: http://www.itworld.com/print/65336
  • 22. 10 Rules for Telecommuting
    • Make sure there are no holes in the save-money calculation
    • Get HR involved. They worry about sound home offices,
    • Make sure that the telecommuter has a separate home office, help line support,
    • Provide a dedicated land-line. Don’t rely on cell phones
    • Cover the teleworkers home office costs
  • 23. 10 Rules for Telecommuting(cont.)
    • Pilot telecommuting with strong workers, not marginal employees
    • Involve teleworkers in meetings, even if they have to come in to participate
    • Be aware that remote employees are not always available.(e.g., don’t all at 11 PM, respect regular working hours)
    • Conduct casual conversations with remote employees as you do with local employees
    • Make them first-class not second class citizens. Give them plum assignments, include intangibles in reviews
    • Source: Bob Lewis http://www.infoworld.com/print/68782. (Note title is “10 Sure fire Ways to Kill Telecommuting”. He gives the inverse of what is successful.
  • 24.
  • 25. Books on Telecommuting
    • Nilles, J, Calson F. R., Gray, P. and G.J. Hanneman"The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff: Options for Tomorrow" Wiley, 1973. Reprinted 2007, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1419667297/jalainterninc
    • Nilles, J.M. "Making Telecommuting Happen: A Guide for Telemanagers and Telecommuters" Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994
    • Nilles, J.M. " Managing Telework: Strategies for Managing the Virtual Workforce: Wiley, 1998