Dashboard: May 2010
Home Secure Home
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.”
Stay in Touch
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.
“Telework allows our employees to balance work and outside life without compromising service.”
—Lori Ahouse, chief operating officer, Ross & Associates Environmental Consulting, Seattle
"Our employees are happier and have fewer interruptions when they work from home. Employee morale is very high, the business is more efficient, and our client satisfaction is through the roof."
— Bill Gerber, co-founder, OSI Business Services, Pompton Plains, N.J.
"If computers in our main office go down, any employee who is a permanent teleworker — which is about 80 percent of our workforce — would be able to continue working without any interruption."
— Jason Snook, vice president of Information Technology, Mindwave Research, Austin, Tex
By the Numbers
17.2 million: The number of Americans who teleworked at least one day per month in 2008, a 39 percent jump over the 12.4 million who teleworked in 2006
SOURCE: Telework Trendlines 2009, WorldatWork
50 million: The number of Americans who hold jobs that could be performed via telework; if all did so at least half of the workweek, the savings would include 12 billion gallons of fuel and 101 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
72%: The percentage of employees who say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another, with 37 percent specifically citing telework
SOURCE: The 2008 Edge Report, Robert Half International
80%: Percentage of employees who consider telework a perk; 36 percent say they would prefer the opportunity to telework in lieu of a raise
$2,000: The average annual savings in commuting costs for a U.S. worker who teleworks one day a week
SOURCE: Telework Exchange
46%: The percentage of companies with alternative work programs that credit telework with reducing turnover
Photo: Igor Lubnevskiy/Veer
What do you consider the greatest benefit that a telework program provides to your business?
17% Reduces costs and the need for office space
51% My company does not offer a telework program
17% Improves employee morale
14% Contributes to the business continuity plan
1% Provides no benefit to my business
SOURCE: CDW poll of 452 BizTech readers