E-Work Summit – 2011 – Summary Notes

 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
Brad Zerbe    
Brenda Tinius   Thin Client Computing
Brian Jung   MSS Technologies
Carolyn Sechler CEO Sechler CPA PC
Chad Kirkpatrick   B2G
Cheryl McElvoy    
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
Deborah Zack    
Denise Hutchinson   APS
Derek Dagger   Citrix
Drew Phelps    
Drew West   Take Charge America
Duke Methavy    
Dustin Fennel CIO Scottsdale Community College
Ed Aaronson    
Ed Vasko Managing Director Terra Verde Services
Eddie Caine   Valley Metro
Gary Stark   Apollo Group
Gordon Krogh   DocNTrain
Greg Wells VP, Human Resources Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ
Jack Foster    
Janet Strandgard BANK MANAGER USAA
Jeffrey Rosenthal Director, IT Carrington Colleges Group
Jennifer Brown   Adot
Jesse Holder Sales Supervisor ClubMed
Jim Schmidt   Progressive
Jim Simpson Manager Total Transit
Jim Willyard   Take Charge America
Joe Shonk    
Joe Stanley System Analyst Total Transit
Joel Granick Chief Medical Information Officer Cancer Treatment Centers of America
John O’Leary   AIB
Karen Gonzalez   USAA
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
Melissa Dus   B2G
Muthu Venkatesh Manager McKesson
Pablo Villalon Consulting Services Director MSS Technologies
Pat Ryan    
Patrick Tyler Manager McKesson
Rebecca O’Connor   USAA
Ruth O’Brien Consultant  
Ryan McCaigue   STC
Scott Henderson AVP West Region Citrix Systems
Scott Pinkerton Director of Organizational Projects Cox Communications
Shan Dattagupta Contact Center Supervisor Progressive
Sherry Michaels   DocNTrain
Shirley Poland   International Cruise & Excursions (ICE)
Steve Lewis    
Steve Stapp VP Wells Fargo
TC Crawford VP IT CableOne
Terri Ferguson Director AIB
Tim Hayden   Citrix
Tracy Sedlak Call Center Director, North America Club Med
Vanessa Lowell   Lavidge
Vaughn Witt    












































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:

  1. What are the top five topics you would like to discuss at the summit?
  2. 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:

  1. Team communication/ engagement: This topic was focused on motivation techniques, employee assistance, collaboration tools, maintaining a team feel and keeping communication open.
  2. Security: securing company information, PCI compliance, HIIPA compliance.
  3. Network/Technology: new technologies, use of VPN, who pays (employee or employer), choosing the right kind of connection, choosing the right voice solution.
  4. Performance management
  5. HR/Legal concerns: Applying FMLA, company policies, employee policies/requirements.
  6. Convincing Management: Providing a ROI model, presenting the benefits
  7. Recruiting/Hiring including screening participants
  8. 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:

  1. Cultural
  2. Technical issues: problems stemming from the VPN, systems freezing, management of patches, preventing downtime.
  3. Lack of comfort with management of productivity or accountability of the employee. (in some ways this could be a cultural issue as well)
  4. 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:

  • Culture
  • Inclusion
  • Not all Positions can e-work
  • Risk Management
  • HR/IT

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?

  • Control
  • Protecting data & intellectual property
  • Education
  • Social networking / collaboration

Access issues?

  • 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

Support issues?

  • 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:

  1. Keep data and applications in the data center.
  2. Citrix is a better overall solution than VMWare.
  3. Either provide a less expensive thin client device or have the employee provide their own end user device.
  4. Not using a VPN is preferable to using a hardware or software based VPN
  5. Voice services over the internet are not recommended
  6. A private network is preferable over a public network solution

 Security Issues:

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

  1. http://www.yalert.com/social.php
  2. 2.       www.trackur.com/
  • 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.

Vision Objectives

  1. Dispel the myth of the stereotype of  “stay at home mom” working in bunny slippers and pajamas
  2. Generational prejudice must be overcome
  3. Business ROI –build the case internally
  4. Establish ways to Measure Non- call center employees productivity
  5. Create blue prints for Disaster Recovery Preparation
  6. Education – Showcase best e-work companies
  7. Peer to peer tours and networking for Sr. Management as well as operations
  8. Highlight Employers of Choice in the market and their e-work programs to promote E-work in Phoenix.
  9. Continue to share Best practices in deploying, maintaining and increasing productivity, developing management skills, available technology and technology tools
  10. 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:

Ian Bellais



Steve Greenberg

(602) 432-8649



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