Nearly half of the 38 employees at SKLD Information Services in Denver work full time from home, and another 25 percent telework part time, a situation that suits everyone at this company just fine, especially company president David Floyd.
The real estate title and mortgage data services firm used to have a 30 percent to 60 percent annual turnover rate, but since its telework program was rolled out in 2003, that rate has been cut to almost zero. In fact, for the first five years after the program was implemented, no one left.
“Telework has boosted our employee morale and job satisfaction so much that we’ve been able to almost save 30 percent of our total employment costs due to the amount of money we used to have to spend on training new employees and getting them up to speed,” Floyd recalls.
At the same time, productivity increased, absenteeism is down by nearly 70 percent, and the company has been able to downsize its office space and cut its rent by 66 percent. “Telework has been huge for us, and it’s really helped us weather the economic downturn a whole lot better than most firms in our industry,” Floyd says.
Setting up employees to work from home hinges on SKLD’s ability to provide them with secure access to the company’s proprietary database. To safeguard the transfer of data, SKLD relies on an IPsec VPN system from WatchGuard Technologies that delivers an encrypted tunnel between the teleworkers’ PCs and the company servers.
“The VPN application is very easy to use and requires very little ongoing support once set up,” Floyd explains. “This is important as it minimizes downtime, support costs and the technical knowledge required of our telecommuters.”
SKLD also provides all of its full- and part-time teleworkers with a Windows PC, required applications needed for daily tasks, an Internet connection and a firewall.
“With telework, our employees are functioning just like on the network at the office,” Floyd says. “There’s no difference, except that people don’t get distracted by all the interpersonal office issues. They’re just completely focused on their work.”
Connection is everything to teleworkers who need to keep the communication lines open with their managers and co-workers but also must answer forwarded calls from customers and suppliers. This unique need requires a flexible office phone — both in the office and at remote sites — which is why telework-friendly companies often opt for the AT&T Synapse SB67030 corded deskset.
The SB67030 small-business system features three-party conference calling to both internal and external sites, expandability to 50 extensions and the ability to handle up to five calls simultaneously. It also includes a fully integrated digital answering machine and soft keys that present different options for handling on-hold and active calls. Each deskset has a built-in base station that complies with the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications standard, making it suitable for office roamers who prefer an accessory cordless handset or headset for wide-ranging mobility.