Organization: Centralina Council of Governments
Location: Charlotte, NC
Contact: Venecia R. White, MPA, PHR, Human Resources Officer
Things to Think About When Starting a Telework Program
When we first began thinking about telework, we did a lot of research to find policies from other organizations that matched our internal structure and project goals. We used these as references to draft our own. We then presented to our directors for their review and put a lot of consideration into how it applies and could affect our employees.
Our telework program is fairly informal compared to others. Teleworking concepts were already in use by some employees, but we did not have a defined policy. Our ombudsmen in the Area Agency on Aging department work in the field almost every day. They regularly travel from their homes to job sites and then can carry out case management work from home. This increases efficiency and reduces overall travel time.
One of our goals in implementing telework was to offer our employees a better work-life balance. Being a local government organization, we have limitations in offering competitive salaries as compared to the private sector. We are always looking for creative ways to provide incentives to our employees. Telework and flexible working schedules have both been incredibly successful and have been very positively received by our employees.
Keys to Managing a Successful Telework Program
The key is knowing your workforce. We immediately saw telework was a great opportunity for our organization and employees, but know teleworking might not look the same for every employer. Trust is a core part of our organization’s value system and our employees generally work on an honor system. We haven’t found a need a formal sign-up system, because staff prove their work time through completion of their deliverables. However, more formal systems may be needed in other organizations. It is important to understand how your values show up in you workforce to craft the perfect policy to fit your needs.
Technology Considerations in Telework Programs
Fortunately, we did not come across any technological issues when establishing our telework program. Employees can use COG laptops or their own without concern. Some members of our finance staff have our accounting system set up on their home computers. This required an extra setup step for our IT department, but it has been really convenient in allowing staff the flexibility to work from home.
Overcoming Downsides of Teleworking
The only challenge we have come across is when an employee wants to work from home, but their job duties cannot be supported by telework. For example, our phone system does not allow our front desk specialist to work remotely. This is difficult because we want to be as fair as possible, but a teleworking arrangement isn’t feasible for every position. Our solution has been to seek out the tasks an employee can do from home and to structure teleworking carefully. We want all positions to be incorporated into the teleworking program, but some take a lot more planning.
Additional Advice from your Experience with Teleworking
Teleworking has been a very positive program for us. For example, in anticipation of recent snow days, our supervisors checked in with their staff to establish plans for work they could do from home. Teleworking allows for continuity of business in situations when staff can’t work due to unsafe commute or office conditions.