Description of Event
The 2011 E-Work Summit’s stated goal was to create a think tank of business, human resource, operation and technical leaders from the Greater Phoenix Area to: 1) Create a resource document for organizations in the Phoenix market interested in launching or improving work at home programs; 2) Discuss the possibility increasing economic development activity by promoting Phoenix as a “work at home” friendly market.
Thank You to Participants
Over 70 participants from the private, non-profit and state government sectors took part in the summit. It is these participants, listed below, that are responsible for the creation of this document. We want to thank them all for the generous donation of their time and look forward to their continued feedback on the continued development and promotion of work at home solutions.
|Ian Bellais||Co-Chair E-Work Summit||Cox Business|
|Steve Greenberg||Co-Chair E-Work Summit||Thin Client Computing|
|Adelina Petrov||Exec. Dir Call Center Operations||International Cruise & Excursions (ICE)|
|Ashla Kinnaman||CEO||Firefly Real Estate, LLC|
|Barbara Disser||SW Region Commuter Program Manager||Boeing Company|
|Beatrice Perry||Quality Assurance Mgr||Club Med|
|Brenda Tinius||Thin Client Computing|
|Brian Jung||MSS Technologies|
|Carolyn Sechler||CEO||Sechler CPA PC|
|Chris Coy||Apollo Group|
|Craig Jacob||President||DeVry University|
|Craig Phelps||Executive Vice President||A.T. Still University|
|Dale Phillips||President||Mark-Taylor Residential|
|Dan Hale||Manager – Customer Care||Best Western International|
|Drew West||Take Charge America|
|Dustin Fennel||CIO||Scottsdale Community College|
|Ed Vasko||Managing Director||Terra Verde Services|
|Eddie Caine||Valley Metro|
|Gary Stark||Apollo Group|
|Greg Wells||VP, Human Resources||Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ|
|Janet Strandgard||BANK MANAGER||USAA|
|Jeffrey Rosenthal||Director, IT||Carrington Colleges Group|
|Jesse Holder||Sales Supervisor||ClubMed|
|Jim Simpson||Manager||Total Transit|
|Jim Willyard||Take Charge America|
|Joe Stanley||System Analyst||Total Transit|
|Joel Granick||Chief Medical Information Officer||Cancer Treatment Centers of America|
|Kayelen Rolfe||State of AZ|
|Ken Ford||Contact Center Manager||CableOne|
|Marcia Rhodes||Marketing||World at Work|
|Mark Ohne||Snell and Wilmer|
|Marnie Zei||Executive Director of Human Resources||International Cruise & Excursions (ICE)|
|Mary Cool||Contact Center Supervisor||Progressive|
|Pablo Villalon||Consulting Services Director||MSS Technologies|
|Scott Henderson||AVP West Region||Citrix Systems|
|Scott Pinkerton||Director of Organizational Projects||Cox Communications|
|Shan Dattagupta||Contact Center Supervisor||Progressive|
|Shirley Poland||International Cruise & Excursions (ICE)|
|Steve Stapp||VP||Wells Fargo|
|TC Crawford||VP IT||CableOne|
|Tracy Sedlak||Call Center Director, North America||Club Med|
To encourage the maximum participation the Summit had an open source format. The open source format is designed so that the participants were in control of the content and topics to be discussed. Prior to the summit a survey was taken of all participants asking them for the top five topics they’d like to discuss at the summit and the top five roadblocks that were preventing their organization’s launch or expansion of a work at home program.
General Breakout Group Topics
Participants were asked two questions:
- What are the top five topics you would like to discuss at the summit?
- What are the top five barriers preventing you from launching or growing your work at home program?
We received a ton of responses with some interesting trends. The top topic that participants wanted to discuss was communication and engagement with work at home employees. The top barrier, by far, was company culture.
Discussion topics broke out in order (from most popular to least) as follows:
- Team communication/ engagement: This topic was focused on motivation techniques, employee assistance, collaboration tools, maintaining a team feel and keeping communication open.
- Security: securing company information, PCI compliance, HIIPA compliance.
- Network/Technology: new technologies, use of VPN, who pays (employee or employer), choosing the right kind of connection, choosing the right voice solution.
- Performance management
- HR/Legal concerns: Applying FMLA, company policies, employee policies/requirements.
- Convincing Management: Providing a ROI model, presenting the benefits
- Recruiting/Hiring including screening participants
- Monitoring/Managing Remote workers
Other topics participants wanted to discuss were flex schedules, corporate culture, hoteling centers, compensation, and office setup.
Barriers broke out in order (from most popular to least) as follows:
- Technical issues: problems stemming from the VPN, systems freezing, management of patches, preventing downtime.
- Lack of comfort with management of productivity or accountability of the employee. (in some ways this could be a cultural issue as well)
- Need for a ROI model that’s meaningful to leadership
Other barriers included: communication with other team members, liability, coaching, scheduling.
Cultural issues were by far the most dominant barrier and if you combine it with the lack of comfort management has with managing productivity, it becomes the overwhelming barrier to growth and/or launching of a work at home program (accounting for almost half of the responses we received).
Summary of Meeting Notes
The meeting notes were a wealth of information. The discussions were detailed and participants had a passion for the work at home topic. The following should be seen as a launching point. We hope to add to this discussion and to continue to refine this into a document that will be a continued resource for any organization interested in managing its own work at home program.
As seen from the survey many wanted to define the benefits for work at home. Overall the group agreed upon the following benefits:
- Employee Engagement/Satisfaction
- Reduces operation cost/Facility savings
- Reduces Turnover
- Travel Costs Reduced
- Retention Benefits
- Reduction in Facilities / Reduce Capacity issues]
- Business Continuity
- Improves Recruiting
- Reduces outsourcing
- Reduces Carbon Footprints
- Reduces Workman’s Comp Claims
- Allows organization to be agile
- Improves Productivity
- Increases employee and customer engagement
- Allows for on-demand and Flexible workforce scheduling
The above benefits are the beginning of an ROI model or business case that management can use to justify a work at home program. Below is an example of an ROI calculator that I have seen in the past to address some of the cost saving’s benefits for upper management.
There was some fairly significant discussion around challenges. The challenges that the participants identified in general are:
- Not all Positions can e-work
- Risk Management
More detailed conversation was spent on the following specific challenges
Response to the Network going down – Planning must allow for flexibility by Management and reasonable expectations. Creating a comprehensive handbook or agent agreement that details the steps an employee should take when the network goes down is essential. The plan must insure clear communication internally between IT and Management. The plan must also insure that IT understands the business objectives of the organization.
Abuse of Trust by e-workers – Addressing abuse and creating trust is best taken care of during the hiring process. A strategic hiring plan is a must. It should include a clear understanding of what the characteristics of the best work at home employee is. Hiring the right people significantly impacts the success of the program.
Misuse of time – Trust, but verify. The culture of the company needs to shift to a production based management outlook. Manage by results and making no exceptions is essential. Creating clear metrics to measure success by is another essential step to the success of a work at home program.
Stereotypes – Cultural change includes addressing stereotypes and myths surrounding work at home. Once a work at home program has been committed to (even after the plans are made and executed) the continued to promotion of the program internally is essential. Suggestions included creating a virtual tour of best e-work organizations and Creating “A day in the life of and e-worker” video
Culture – To tackle overall cultural change the suggestions from the team included taking a survey of leadership gauging their overall impressions of work at home, create a structured transition plan that creates a higher degree of comfort, communicate often and clearly to the organization, win over executive support early in the process, and to start small with a small pilot that will provide metrics and measured benefits that are meaningful to the organization.
Productivity – ablish Metrics that accurately measure success that achieves the organization’s overall goals. Setting baseline performance standards is essential to establishing productivity metrics. Don’t confuse results with work schedules. Survey the organization to identify belief systems surrounding how success is defined. Establish pilot groups to work through issues to ensure the definition of success can be measured in accurate and meaningful ways. Assess work environments (e.g. day care, dogs, etc.) before the employee transitions to the home.
Other Considerations theSummitgroups agreed should be addressed include:
- Hiring and Compensation processes must be established
- Must understand how to handle things like FMLA, Workers Comp claims, Unions and non-exempt hourly employees.
- A recruiting profile is required; identify characteristics of a virtual employee
- Coaching and productivity/performance management adherence processes
- Collaboration within workgroups and departments
- Measuring productivity of varying skill sets across multiple work groups
- Measure productivity of support groups
- Maintaining communication and motivation
- Establishing Employee engagement –connection points
- Team building with Brand reputation
- Increase scope of hiring plan to Multi-generational diversity – all ages
- Train for new Leadership skills required for work at home
- Human Capital – continue to promote from within the organization without discriminating against work at home employees.
- Conduct anonymous surveys and have HR conduct one on one interviews and follow up calls at launch of e-work
Security and Technology
Participants in the Security and Technology groups were asked three questions. What security concerns do you have? What access issues do you have? What support issues are you facing?
Below are the answers we received to each question
What security concerns do you have?
- Protecting data & intellectual property
- Social networking / collaboration
- Infrastructure for broadband acces
- broadband access is not pervasive outside of the metroplex
- broadband pricing – affordable?
- secure, reliable, stable Internet connection
- no clear broadband map
- not so much the size of the pipe, but rather the stability of the pipe
- do techs go to the home office?
- what if the problem is at the home?
- Boeing has laptop tech support centers where teleworkers can bring in their equipment for support
There were several technology best practices that were agreed upon:
- Keep data and applications in the data center.
- Citrix is a better overall solution than VMWare.
- Either provide a less expensive thin client device or have the employee provide their own end user device.
- Not using a VPN is preferable to using a hardware or software based VPN
- Voice services over the internet are not recommended
- A private network is preferable over a public network solution
To further enhance security the following were recommended or need to be addressed:
- Implement Personally Identifiable Information (PII data) – for those that don’t fully understand PII you can read more at this link – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personally_identifiable_information
- Address concerns about viruses from personal devices
- Only allow approved devices (how viable will that strategy be in 5 years?). A private network or Ethernet solution makes this a possibility. The use of Thin Client devices makes this issue more cost effective.
- Established and enforced computer policies, ethics, practices via education practices. All end users should receive security practices training
- Social network monitoring is needed
– What is being written by teleworkers during business hours? How do you address this issues?
– Policies/procedures need to be in place reflecting acceptable use (be careful of labor law issues)
– Tools to search for inappropriate use
- Establish an internal social networking site to allow people to chat/discuss corporate items without having to go out to the Internet.
Stated Goals and Next Steps
Over all the Summit participants created this vision for the goals the group would like to achieve.
- Dispel the myth of the stereotype of “stay at home mom” working in bunny slippers and pajamas
- Generational prejudice must be overcome
- Business ROI –build the case internally
- Establish ways to Measure Non- call center employees productivity
- Create blue prints for Disaster Recovery Preparation
- Education – Showcase best e-work companies
- Peer to peer tours and networking for Sr. Management as well as operations
- Highlight Employers of Choice in the market and their e-work programs to promote E-work in Phoenix.
- Continue to share Best practices in deploying, maintaining and increasing productivity, developing management skills, available technology and technology tools
- Human Capital – promote from within the organization
This will eventually be an open source document and the E-Work LinkedIn group are the means we are using today to continue the conversation and focus on the above objectives. We are open to other ideas including establishing roundtables, a follow up conference and establishing the Summit as an annual event.
Please reach out to either Steve or Ian with further suggestions. Their contact information is below: