Sample Policy_Memo by liwenting


									March 31, 2004

To:    Director of San Francisco Public Health Department (SFPHD)

From: Alicia Neumann

Re:    Telework Policy


       To support the mission of the San Francisco Public Health Department (SFPHD), the

Human Resource division promotes personnel policy in accordance with quality management

practices. In general, this requires Human Resource to take a leadership role in policy

development and provide the Department with ongoing organizational flexibility (Shafritz, 2001,

pp. 363-372). More specifically, quality management practices charge Human Resource with

“…changing the culture, sustaining innovation, planning and accomplishing the next level of

breakthroughs, and developing and sharing work knowledge” (Shafritz, 2001, p. 363). In

accordance with this management approach, Human Resource currently recommends a new

telework policy for SFPHD. Telework will greatly advance the Department’s mission—to

protect and promote the health of all San Franciscans, and serve not only individual employees,

but also the Department itself and the community at large. To provide a full understanding of the

proposed new policy, the following sections of this memo present a comprehensive summary of

telework: including background information, policy rationale and limitations, as well as specific

language and implementation considerations for SFPHD.

Definition and Background

       Business literature provides a variety of terms and definitions for telework including

remote work, telecommuting, and working at home (Smith and Baruch in Johnson, 2001, p. 2).

In its broadest sense, however, the practice of telework simply involves working anywhere

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outside of a traditional office while remaining connected to it. Related to cottage industry

practices of old, in which workers at home did piecework for an employer in town (Cross and

Raizman, 1986, p. vii), telework then developed as a concept in the last fifty years due to

innovations in organization management and technology, as well as the advent of an economy

based on managing information (Cross and Raizman, 1986, p. 8). Today, with such tools as cell

phones, laptop computers and the Internet, many employees in government, academia and other

knowledge intensive organizations can work on projects virtually anywhere at anytime while

remaining in touch with one or more office locations.

       Organizational advantages that can result from telework include decentralized processes,

increased production, and reduced costs (Cross and Raizman, 1986, p. 8). Also, although

telework remains somewhat new to the public sector, reports indicate that the practice is proving

useful for federal, state and local agencies, and evidence from these organizations shows that

telework “can be very successful and have the potential for real productivity savings” (Kemp,

1995, p. N/A).

Rationale and Limitations for Telework at SFPHD

       Effective teleworking creates advantages for individual employees, organizations, and

society at large (Daniels, 2000, p. 2). The proposed telework policy for SFDPH will improve

employees’ quality of life, increase Department productivity, and provide some alternatives to

socially problematic workplace practices. Also, all benefits advance the Department’s mission—

to protect and promote the health of all San Franciscans.

Individual Employee Benefits

       Although telework doesn’t suit all employees (which will be discussed later), many

workers find that telecommuting improves their life, providing “a number of practical, financial,

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psychological, and environmental benefits” (Cross and Raizman, 1986, p. 11). Employees who

telework report experiencing greater freedom and control over their lives, which reduces stress

(Pinsonneault and Boisvert in Johnson, 2001, p. 169), a clear health benefit. They also report

fewer disturbances while they are working (Daniels, 2000, p. 2), which can improve morale. One

testimonial from a government accountant working 750 miles from the AGA National office

describes her experience as follows:

               I love being able to work from home, especially after three years of doing the
               D.C. commute. It is nice to have the flexibility to be able to care for a sick child at
               home (and still work that day) or stay late at "the office" to meet a pressing
               deadline (Sullivan Force, 2000, p. N/A).

Department Benefits

       Telework also promises SFPHD numerous benefits, including better staff recruiting and

retention due to employee affinity for the practice and the inability of otherwise qualified

workers, such as the disabled, to appear at an office everyday (Cross and Raizman, 1986, p. 17).

Also, telework improves productivity and saves money. According to research, productivity

increases result from various factors, including less time lost to commuting and office socializing

(Cross and Raizman, 1986, p. 11), as well as the ability to work at peak creativity, which may

not occur during normal office hours (Pinsonneault and Boisvert in Johnson, 2001, p. 170).

Savings result from such productivity increases, and other factors.

       Numerous cost-benefit studies show that telework saves departments money through

decreased sick leave and turnover, as well as reduced overhead costs (Gibson, 2002, p. N/A).

One study by the California Telecommuting Pilot Project concludes that the organizational costs

of creating and implementing a telework policy can be covered within the first year or two, and

benefit-to-cost ratios can ultimately reach 20 to one (JALA, 1990, p. 4). By improving

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productivity and lowering costs at SFPHD, the proposed telework policy can increase health

opportunities created by the Department for all San Franciscans.

Societal Benefits

       Implementing telework at SFPHD can also promote positive change and improve health

throughout society at large. By reducing employee commuting, telework provides environmental

benefits through reduced traffic congestion and promotes quality family life by allowing

individuals to spend more time at home (SF Commission on the Status of Women, 1999). Other

societal benefits include normalizing alternative work habits often associated with women and

lower salaries. In a recent report by the GAO, analysts found that the wage imbalance for women

in part results from their choice of alternative work arrangements, which research shows can

have negative effects on career advancement and earnings (U.S. GAO, 2003, p. 61). By

implementing the proposed telework policy, SFPHD can promote gender equity in the workplace

while allowing women to forego traditional situations associated with a male-dominated


       Thus, the proposed telework policy for SFPHD can promote health throughout the San

Francisco Bay Area, benefiting employees, the department and society in general. And, in

developing the policy, Human Resource worked to maximize these benefits through an

understanding of telework’s limitations.


       Telework can create unique challenges with regard to organizational structure,

consistency and communication (Daniels, p. 2-3). Specific problems that limit effective telework

include management resistance due to perceived lack of control, and teleworker alienation due to

feelings of isolation (Cross and Raizman, 1986, pp. 22-25). One study of remote workers reports

that the overuse of e-mails and Intranets can interfere with teleworkers’ organizational

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attachment (Morgan and Symon, 2002, p. 307). Also, lack of organizational commitment to

equal benefits for teleworkers can create conflicts with unions (AFL-CIO, 2004). In general, any

telework policy runs a low risk of success without a “systematic framework” that addresses

organizational context, management of individuals, and human resource issues (Daniels, pp. 3-

7), including civil, health and safety liabilities, and zoning at the remote location (Smith and

Baruch in Johnson, 2001, pp. 12-23).

Proposed Policy

       The following policy creates a framework for telework at SFPHD, addressing key issues

with regard to Department structure, employee concerns and Human Resource policy. Even more

importantly, perhaps, it approaches employees with trust and an attitude of partnership, not

control, which promotes quality management practices (Shafritz, 2001, p. 363), and is crucial to

the success of telework (Staples in Johnson, 2001, p. 188):

       The San Francisco Public Health Department supports flexible work arrangements for
       two types of jobs: 1) simple and output-oriented (e.g., assembling mailings), and 2)
       complex, highly autonomous projects (e.g., writing analytic reports). Employees engaged
       in either type of work may telework provided they have met the following conditions:
       - Completed training that includes positive and negative employee experiences with
           telework, and personality considerations for teleworkers.
       - Created a schedule, approved by the supervisor and Human Resource that identifies
           the number of days per week or month the teleworker will appear in the office.
       - Developed a plan that identifies zoning, equipment, health and safety needs, and
           teleworker accessibility away from the office, as well as civil liability for specified
           types of accidents and injuries.
       - Participated in the creation of ongoing performance goals, which have been and
           continue to be met.

Implementation Considerations

       To implement the proposed telework policy, Human Resource recommends training for

both managers and employees. Management training should include information about two

practices that have been shown to be particularly effective in managing teleworkers: situational

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leadership (Gibson and Blackwell, 2002, p. N/A), and outcomes based performance

measurement (Harrington and Ruppel in Johnson, 2001, p. 100). Employee training should strive

to build understanding and a sense of shared culture among all employees (Monochehri and

Pinkerton, 2003, p. N/A). Effective programs typically include four topics: a telework overview,

a suitability test, telework skills, and working with teleworkers from an office (Henquinet in

Johnson, 2001, p. 124). Advanced teleworker training can help employees meet the conditions of

the telework policy.


        The telework policy proposed in this memo promotes quality at the San Francisco Public

Health Department by increasing organizational flexibility and participatory ambiance (Shafritz,

2001, p. 364). It advances telework as an age-old practice with progressive applications,

accounts for accepted limitations, and promotes careful implementation. Once established it will

spread benefits across the spectrum of SFDPH customers and society at large in accordance with

the generous and liberal spirit that infuses San Francisco.


AFL-CIO. “Family-Friendly Work Schedules.” Work and Family section of AFL-CIO Web site. Retrieved April 3,
       2004 from

Cross, Thomas B. and Marjorie Raizman. Telecommuting: The Future Technology of Work. Homewood, Illinois:
        Dow Jones-Irwin, 1986.

Daniels, Kevin, David Lamond and Peter Standen, editors. Managing Telework. London: Thomson Learning
         Business Press, 2000.

JALA Associates, Inc. “The State of California Telecommuting Project Final Report. Executive Summary.” Los
      Angeles: JALA Associates, Inc., June 1990. Retrieved April 2, 2004 from

Gibson, Jane Whitney, Charles W Blackwell, Peter Dominicis and Nicole Demerath. “Telecommuting in the 21st
         century: Benefits, issues, and a leadership model which will work,” Journal of Leadership &
         Organizational Studies. Flint: Spring 2002. Received from SFSU Library via ProQuest with no page

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                                                                                              Alicia Neumann
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Johnson, Nancy J., editor. Telecommuting and Virtual Offices: Issues and Opportunities. Hershey, Pennsylvania:
        Idea Group Publishing, 2001.

Kemp, Donna R. “Telecommuting in the public sector: An overview and a survey of the states,” Review of Public
       Personnel Administration, Columbia, Summer 1995. Received from SFSU Library via ProQuest with no
       page numbers.

Manochehri. Gus and Theresa Pinkerton. “Managing telecommuters: Opportunities and challenges,” American
       Business Review. West Haven: Jan 2003. Received from SFSU Library via ProQuest with no page

Morgan, Stephanie J. and Gillian Symon. “Computer-Mediated Communication and Remote Management:
        Integration or Isolation,” Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 20 No. 3, Fall 2002, 302-311.

San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. “Department of Public Works Gender Analysis 1999.”
        Retrieved March 31, 2004 from

Shafritz, Jay M., David H. Rosenbloom, Norma M. Riccucci, Katherine C. Naff and Albert C. Hyde. Personnel
          Management in Government: Politics and Process. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2001.

Sullivan Force, Marie. “Telecommuting,” The Government Accountants Journal. Arlington, Spring 2000. Received
         from SFSU Library via ProQuest with no page numbers.

United States General Accounting Office. “Women’s Earnings: Work Patterns Partially Explain Difference
        between Men’s and Women’s Earnings.” Washington D.C.: U.S. GAO, October, 2003. Retrieved March
        31, 2004 from

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