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					        Going Virtual:
The Telecommumuting
           Revolution


                4imprint.com
Going Virtual:




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The Telecommuting Revolution
What do more than half of Sun Microsystems’ employees have in common with
nearly 40 percent of IBM’s workers?


They all are telecommuters. As of 2007, 40 percent of IBM’s 330,000 employees
telework on any given day, 1 while 56 percent of Sun Micro’s employees work
without an assigned office, either from home or in a “flexible office space.”


Translation? Teleworking is the new flextime.


And, there’s been quite the payoff. Sun Micro’s telecommuting
program has led to many benefits, including saving more than
$387 million in IT and real estate costs and a 28K reduction in
CO2 annually. 2


Telecommuting, or otherwise known as “teleworking,” is when
an employee, group of employees or entire organization works
virtually, out-of-office from home or another remote location
(coffee shop, anyone?). As of fall 2008, 40 percent of U.S.
companies permitted some sort of teleworking, whether part- or
full-time. 3 If you crunched those numbers, that means more than
35 million employees telework at least one day per month!                             4


It’s no surprise though, when you look at its benefits.


What’s in it for me?
Teleworking benefits to both employers and employees may include: Decreased
operating and commercial real estate costs, increased quality of life and employee
happiness, positive environmental impact (less CO2 emissions), and greater
productivity due to less commute and interruption time.


Another strong benefit to telecommuting is of increasing the size of the talent
pool for employee selection and recruitment purposes. Teleworking allows for
greater attraction of:

1 Cooney, Michael. “Telecommute: Kill a career?” Network World. 17 Jan. 2007. 08 Dec. 2008
  <http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/011707-telecommute-career.html>.
2 Tahmincioglu, Eve. “The quiet revolution: telecommuting.” MSNBC.com. 05 Oct. 2007. 08 Dec. 2008
  <http://www.msnbc.com/id/20281475>.
3 Koerner, Brendan. “Home Sweet Office: Telecommute Good for Business, Employees, and Planet.” WIRED. 22
  Sept. 2008. 08 Dec. 2008 <http://www.wired.com/culture/cultureviews/magazine/16-10/st_essay>.
4 Barrett, Amy. “Making Telecommuting Work.” BusinessWeek. 17 Oct. 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
  <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_70/s0810048750962.htm>.
                                                    © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
         •        Generation X and Y whose lifestyles aren’t accustomed




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                  to the cubicle
         •        Disabled employees who may find public transportation or workplace
                  building accommodations difficult to manage 5
         •        Workers across the globe who need not be in-office to get the job done
         •        Baby Boomers craving flexibility as they grow older yet want to stay on
                  the job    6




In this Blue PaperSM, we’ll cover more teleworking benefits and delve into the how-tos
from both the employer and the employee angles. First, we’ll start with the employer
side – because, employees can’t telecommute if their employers aren’t on board!


Setting the stage
Before employers dive head first into the telecommuting revolution, they need to
make sure that the correct policies and protocols are in place. Since it is likely that
employees will be (or, already have) requesting the ability to telework, you’ll want to
be prepared.


A basic telecommuting policy begins with the reasoning behind why the organization
is considering adopting telecommuting. Here, goals and purposes should be outlined,
followed by a punch-list of any necessary to-dos before any policy can even be
implemented. Then, the policy itself should be rooted in the following elements
(expand upon if needed for your organization’s size or scope of business):


         •        Technology – What types of tech tools will staff members
                  need to stay connected off-site? Also, you may want to
                  consider who will cover what costs. Most companies will
                  pick up the costs of Internet access, a phone line and
                  teleconferencing equipment if an employee teleworks
                  three or more days per week. 7 We’ll go into deeper details
                  about tech tools later on.


         •        Productivity – How will productivity be measured when
                  workers aren’t in-office? Brainstorm new ways to measure
                  productivity, whether it’s more consistent progress
                  reporting or high-tech tools that allow you to see what
                  tasks they’re working on while at home.


5 Tahmincioglu, Eve. “The quiet revolution: telecommuting.” MSNBC.com. 05 Oct. 2007. 08 Dec. 2008
  <http://www.msnbc.com/id/20281475>.
6 Tahmincioglu, Eve. “The quiet revolution: telecommuting.” MSNBC.com. 05 Oct. 2007. 08 Dec. 2008
  <http://www.msnbc.com/id/20281475>.
7 Barrett, Amy. “Making Telecommuting Work.” BusinessWeek. 17 Oct. 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
<http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_70/s0810048750962.htm>.
                                                      © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
         •        Feasibility – Think about what positions lend well to teleworking, and




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                  how your organization will function in a part- or full-time teleworking
                  environment. What employees will be allowed to apply for telecommuting
                  status, and under what terms? According to the International Telework
                  Association, two days per week is the U.S. average among teleworkers. 8
                  In addition, jobs that don’t absolutely require face time or involve longer
                  periods of concentration will yield well to a telecommuter work style. 9


                  This foundational element may also lead to developing a telecommuting
                  “request form” that each employee must fill out if he or she wishes to
                  telework. A “telecommuting agreement” may be beneficial for employees to
                  sign too, that outlines standards to be met, as well as any legality issues. 10


         •        Connectivity – In order for a telecommuting program to take off without
                  a hitch, a communication plan must be in order for everyone involved.
                  This includes workers that are still in-office. Make sure
                  your policy includes how non-teleworkers can connect to
                  their virtual counterparts (i.e. Calls to virtual employees
                  are completely acceptable – you don’t need to wait until
                  they’re back in the office to get your answers). This will
                  ease any feelings of resentment that often occur when
                  some employees are in-office while others are not.


         •        Safety – Microsoft’s small business guru Monte Enbysk
                  warns employers to not cut corners on ergonomics when
                  establishing a telecommuting policy. Why? Because
                  although OSHA won’t inspect home offices or hold employers liable for
                  them, employers are still required to keep records of employee injuries
                  suffered at home. This means that, in the end, employers may still be found
                  liable for employee damage claims. 11 Try to mitigate these concerns by
                  requiring employees to bring in photos of their at-home workspace, and
                  provide them with ergonomically-friendly chairs, keyboards and mouse pads.



Once you’ve considered the “big five” above, we’d recommend a trial run. That’s exactly
what the City of Portland did when it began its program over ten years ago. For six


8 Hansen, Katharine. “Making Your Case for Telecommuting: How to Convince the Boss.” Quintessential Careers. 2004. 8
  Dec. 2008 <http://www.quintcareers.com/printable/telecommuting_options.html>.
9 Barrett, Amy. “Making Telecommuting Work.” BusinessWeek. 17 Oct. 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
  <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_70/s0810048750962.htm>.
10 Caldwell, Kelley. “Create a Telecommuting Strategy.” Monster.com: Career Advice. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://career-advice.monster.com/management-skills/human-resources/management/>.
11 Enbysk, Monte. “Make telecommuting work for your business.” Microsoft: Small Business. 08 Dec. 2008
    <http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/management/pay-benefits/make-telecommuting-work-for-your-
   business.aspx>.

                                                      © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
months, 30 city employees participated in the telecommuting pilot. The result?




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Happier employees, increased morale and a permanent telecommuting policy for
all city staff.   12




Telecommuting tech tools
One of the most vital assets to any telecommuting venture’s success is that of
technology. Without the right tools fostering communication and productivity amongst
in- and out-of-office workers, a telecommuting situation may go awry.


Here, we’ve outlined some of the best technology elements to infuse into any
teleworker’s at-home office. But, don’t take this list as the end-all, be-all of necessary
tech tools – your organization’s telecommuting technology should match your needs
and company culture first and foremost.


         •         T
                    hebasics – At the very least, teleworkers’ home
                   offices should be outfitted with a computer,
                   printer, fax capability (either machine or Web-
                   based), scanner, copier, desk and mailing supplies,
                   according to The Washington Post online. 13
                   Also consider adding calendar sharing to the
                   teleworking basics package – it will allow for
                   streamlined appointment and meeting scheduling.


         •         Webcams – A useful tool for videoconferencing in
                   meetings, or just between one or two coworkers. They’re a great way to
                   keep relationships alive and well, too (a little “face time” never hurt!).
                   Many laptops come with webcams already built in, but you can also
                   purchase an external webcam. (Want to go even further? Try out LifeSize®
                   Express – it’s a hi-definition video conferencing system. Yes folks, HD is
                   everywhere these days!)


         •          ocumentcollaboration – With the evolutions of the Internet, sharing
                   D
                   and collaborating on project documents has never been easier. Try out
                   Google™ Docs or Glance® – both of which allow users to check-out and
                   change documents in real time. Another great online collaboration tool is
                   Adobe® Acrobat® Connect™.




12 Oregon Department of Energy. “City of Portland Gives Telecommuting a Thumbs Up Following a Six-Month Test.”
   Oregon Government, Department of Energy. June 1996. <http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/TRANS/Telework/docs/
   telepdx.pdf>
13 Goldberg, Gabe. “Tech That Makes Telecommuting Work.” The Washington Post. 01 June 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/31/>.

                                                     © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
         •        Voice-overIPsystemandrouters – These tools allow for teleworking




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                  employees to take phone calls from clients by providing a single phone
                  number that “finds” them anywhere. Employees simply plug their phone
                  line into the router to receive calls. 14


         •        I
                  nstantmessagingandWeb-basedchat – If you think that
                  constant phone calls may get in the way of organizational
                  productivity as a whole, try implementing a messenger system
                  to keep everyone connected. Go the program route with
                  applications such as Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant
                  Messenger (AIM®) or MSN® Messenger, or simply create a chat
                  room online on a company intranet or already-established
                  external chat site like Yahoo!® Messenger.


         •        Virtualprivatenetwork(VPN) – We recommend setting up a VPN
                  if you have very independent workers – ones that are working
                  virtually most, if not all of the time, and will need consistent remote access
                  to the company network or files on the server. Contact your IT department
                  for details on how to set up a VPN or a remote desktop.


         •        U
                   SBdesktops – This relatively new technology allows for users to transfer
                  full applications such as word processing or Web browsing onto a USB
                  drive for use at any location. 15 This is a great option for employees who
                  may be working on multiple computers virtually.


Telecommuting security 101
Now, before we tackle the issue of telecommuting from the employee’s point-of-view,
let’s review a telecommuting issue that both employers and employees need to be
aware of and plan for: security.


Although the chance of a security or privacy breach can be intimidating, have no
fear. There are plenty of tools to put in place that will mitigate these concerns,
putting telecommuters on the right side of the proverbial tracks. Plus, experts say
that telecommuting doesn’t really pose more risks than its in-office counterpart – just
different risks. 16




14 Barrett, Amy. “Making Telecommuting Work.” BusinessWeek. 17 Oct. 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_70/s0810048750962.htm>.
15 Goldberg, Gabe. “Tech That Makes Telecommuting Work.” The Washington Post. 01 June 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/31/>.
16 Messmer, Ellen. “Telecommuting Poses Security, Privacy Risks.” PC World. 31 July 2008. Network World. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/149200-1>.

                                                       © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Here, we’ve outlined the most common mistakes in establishing a telecommuting security




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strategy, and how to diffuse them before they become a real security issue:


Commonerror1: Not developing security guidelines for telecommuters at all.


This is more common than you might expect. According to a recent cross-industry
telecommuting risk report, only half of the 73 surveyed organizations have even
developed a telecommuting security policy as guidance to their out-of-office workers. 17
We recommend that your policy includes information and implementation tactics
surrounding:


         1.        Failed-logon lockout settings on computers
         2.        Privacy screens
         3.        Security cables for locking down computers
         4.        Periodic audits of telecommuters’ physical working environments
                   (only 20 percent of employers do this!) 18
         5.        Clean-desk guidelines for teleworkers


Commonerror2: Blurring the lines between personal and work devices.


Again, almost half of all companies surveyed said that their teleworkers (both part- and
full-time) use their personally-owned computers, PDAs or other tools for work purposes. 19
This can pose serious security risks when confidential data is passed between unsecure
devices. Outline specifically in your teleworking guidelines how the use of personal devices
is to be handled. We recommend keeping them separate – it’s the safest way to ensure
data security and privacy.


Commonerror3: Ignoring hard-copy documents and correspondence.


Only one-third of companies participating in the survey provide
their teleworkers with a shredder for print-outs, faxes and other
confidential documents. 20 Make sure that all telecommuters are outfitted
with the right equipment before they begin working out-of-office.


Commonerror4: Not backing up your data.


This goes for both in- and out-of-office employees. If you’re backing up your company
data for in-office employees, make sure the same is happening with virtual workers. This


17-20 Messmer, Ellen. “Telecommuting Poses Security, Privacy Risks.” PC World. 31 July 2008. Network World. 08 Dec. 2008
      <http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/149200-1>.




                                                       © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
can sometimes be overlooked if teleworkers are using personal computers or devices.




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We recommend backing up through a third-party at a remote location, outside of your
organization, to lend to heightened security and safety.


Adding ‘Telecommuter’ to your business card
Now, let’s switch gears a bit to the employee side. How exactly do you become a
telecommuter?


One of your first thoughts when considering teleworking may be, “Does my job lend
well to the teleworking routine?” Most of the time, we’ve found that the answer
is “Yes.” Sometimes, all it takes is a little out-of-the-box thinking. For
example, take Hyatt™ Regency Santa Clara concierge Anna Mariano-Morris.
Yes, you read that correctly – the hotel’s main concierge actually works
virtually!


Mariano-Morris’ face is projected onto a plasma-screen TV in the hotel’s
lobby via a webcam in her home office. Everything else about her position
remains the same though, including her duties and hours. Her boss, hotel
General Manager Peter Rice, explains that it’s worked out beautifully, albeit
initial concerns.


“She’s a phenomenal concierge, and it doesn’t matter that she’s 85 miles
away,” he says. 21


As you can see from this example, nearly any job can be a telecommuting position.
Employees simply need to assess what portions (if not all) of their position can be
performed remotely to the same caliber (or better) as in-office.


With that in mind, it’s time to approach upper management with your request.


Start with the research
Your employer may already have a telecommuting program in place that you’re
unaware of. Investigate first, before approaching your employer with a
telecommuting request. We recommend starting with HR and going from there
in your search for answers.


If no such existing program turns up, your next stop should be the employee handbook
or your contract. Make sure there are no policies against telecommuting. In these


21 Tahmincioglu, Eve. “The quiet revolution: telecommuting.” MSNBC.com. 05 Oct. 2007. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.msnbc.com/id/20281475>.
                                                     © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
documents, you may also be able to find policies regarding flextime or similar options –




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these are often times good signs that your company may be open to telecommuting.


Now, on to competitor research. Try looking into your organization’s competitors to see
if they offer any telecommuting options to employees. Also, find out if it’s a popular
option in your industry or in your geographic area. If you find any “yeses” here, add
them to your persuasion arsenal.


Finally, take a good hard look at yourself. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and
associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, recommends taking a personal inventory
before addressing your superiors to gauge whether you’re the kind of employee who
will thrive in a telecommuting environment. If you can confidently identify with the
following traits, you’re probably a prime candidate 22:


         •        Self-disciplined
         •        Self-starter
         •        Independent performer
         •        Proven performer
         •        Organized
         •        Good time manager


And, the pitch…
Once you’ve done your research and assessments, it’s time to pitch your employer on
the idea of telecommuting. Many employers are nervous about the idea of letting
employees out of their sight completely, so you’ll need to structure your delivery in such
a way that is both strong and succinct, while still being empathetic and insightful. Try a
few of these tips on for size:


         •        Sweepinontwofronts: Rather than simply telling your boss why you
                  should be allowed to telecommute, write it down, too. Experts agree that
                  a comprehensive, balanced, written proposal paired with a strong oral
                  presentation is the best bet for success. 23


         •        I
                  t’sallaboutthem: Although you may think that the option to
                  telecommute ultimately relates to your wants and needs, make sure
                  that your employer understands what’s in it for him or her. Focus on the
                  benefits the company will receive from you telecommuting, not your


22 Hansen, Katharine. “Making Your Case for Telecommuting: How to Convince the Boss.” Quintessential Careers. 2004.
   8 Dec. 2008 <http://www.quintcareers.com/printable/telecommuting_options.html>.

23 Hansen, Katharine. “Making Your Case for Telecommuting: How to Convince the Boss.” Quintessential Careers. 2004.
   8 Dec. 2008 <http://www.quintcareers.com/printable/telecommuting_options.html>.

                                                      © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
                  personal benefits. Try weaving in professional benefits to you as well –




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                  such as greater productivity and task efficiency due to less time spent
                  commuting or being interrupted by coworkers.


         •         akeacaseforyourselfasanemployee: You’ve done the self-assessment
                  M
                  of traits that would make you a successful teleworker, so tout them!
                  Describe how you know you’ll be an effective teleworker through your
                  accomplishments, reliability and proven work record. Another key trait
                  to weave into your presentation may include the amount of time you’ve
                  worked with the company. This will indicate that you know your job well
                  enough to work independently from a remote location, without your
                  supervisor having to constantly check in or answer questions. 24


         •        T
                   rialanderror: If your employer isn’t biting
                  the idea to go all-out telecommuting as you
                  may wish, propose a trial period. Outline the
                  timeline of the trial period, how goals and
                  productivity will be measured, and how your
                  employer can reach you. Plus, the number of
                  full-time telecommuters in the United States
                  is significantly less than part-time 25, so by
                  starting small you may be heightening your
                  chance of victory.


         •        Gettech-y: Finally, your superiors need to know what telecommuting
                  takes – technology-wise – for it to work. Address what equipment you’ll
                  need, who will cover what costs and how security issues will be handled.
                  Use our previously outlined list in this Blue PaperSM as a starting point.


In the end, the telecommuting choice for employees and employers alike rests on
“fit” – fit within an organization, and a personal fit. Some company cultures easily lend
to the idea of teleworkers, while others may not. On a similar note, some teleworkers’
personal traits may lend well to working virtually, while others are better suited for an
office environment.


But, the point is, you never know until you try! Consider teleworking a viable option to
flextime today, and you may be surprised at how easy the transition is, as well as how
many benefits there truly are to be reaped.



24 Lorenz, Kate. “Telecommuting 101.” Careerbuilder.com. 22 Feb. 2008. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.careerbuilder.com/article/cb-616-getting-ahead-telecommuting-101/>.
25 Messmer, Ellen. “Telecommuting Poses Security, Privacy Risks.” PC World. 31 July 2008. Network World. 08 Dec. 2008
   <http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/149200-1>.



                                                       © 2009 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
                                                                                       lue Paper
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Description: What do more than half of Sun Microsystems’ employees have in common with nearly 40 percent of IBM’s workers? They all are telecommuters. As of 2007, 40 percent of IBM’s 330,000 employees telework on any given day, 1 while 56 percent of Sun Micro’s employees work without an assigned office, either from home or in a “flexible office space.”
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