By Gary Gerew, Assistant Editor
Damian Esquibel, sales executive, Lovelace Health Plan
When Yahoo earlier this month announced that it was ending its policy of letting many employees work from home, it opened a new round in the debate over whether the practice helps or hurts a company. Three Albuquerque executives — two of whom do much of their work from home — shared their thoughts on the issue.
Lovelace Health Plan
I am officially a “work at home” employee of Lovelace Health Plan. In my role as a sales executive, I work with large New Mexico employers and insurance agents/brokers and am on the run quite a bit. My job is to meet my clients’ needs, wherever they are. As such, my desk can be anywhere – from my car to a coffee shop. I have literally pulled over on the side of the road to conduct business and answer questions. Such is the age of modern technology. I jokingly refer to the fact that I carry my office on my belt. My phone is my entire office since it holds everything I need to properly manage my day – calendar, contacts, emails, texts and phone calls. With that wonderful little device, I can effectively work from any myriad of locations, including from home. Even though I work from home, I am able to stay engaged with my clients and offer them 100 percent of my attention. I meet regularly with clients at their location. Additionally, I am able to interact and brainstorm on a regular basis with my colleagues, whether that’s through meetings or conference calls. This flexibility allows me to stay highly productive, highly motivated and highly engaged with my job, team and clients. The main hurdle from working at home is that you never leave the job. It can become easier and easier to work earlier in the day or well into the evening hours, so finding a balance is critical.
Robert Half Technology
Companies need to establish clear expectations and guidelines for what’s involved. Managers should keep a schedule of when employees will be working offsite and where and how they can be reached. Managers also need to make remote workers feel connected to the group. Recognize them in front of their peers. Keep them current on company news and invite them to join team-building activities. [Workers] need to get off to a strong start each day. You need to get ready for the day just as you world if you were going into the office. Force yourself to be disciplined. Stick closely to a set schedule. Some managers worry their employees slack off when they telecommute, but the opposite is often true. To prove they’re putting in their time, many newbie telecommuters actually “overwork.” You have to make sure to take breaks and set a stop time for yourself. Be sure to communicate with coworkers about when you’ll be on/offline. There are some clear advantages and disadvantages to allowing employees to work from home. Among the disadvantages, telecommuters may keep non-traditional hours and reaching them for an urgent project or impromptu meeting may be more challenging. There also can be a diminished sense of corporate culture. Those who work out of the office may lose the sense of being part of the team over time. Among the advantages, businesses can save on real estate costs if fewer employees need full-time workstations at the office. Having the option to work remotely also can give professionals more control over their schedules and help them save on transportation expenses and shorten their commutes. But as a manager, telecommuting doesn’t really make sense for me. We are in the personal services business and face time is an essential part of our jobs.
vice president for community relations
Wells Fargo Bank
I am always seeking balance in my life as a working professional, wife and mom of two school–aged, busy kids. With early morning meetings, evening events, homework, after-school activities and social functions, I wondered if balance was possible. I think it is and we own it! Fear is typically what gets in the way, asking for help and asking for the tools you need in your career to help you achieve your balance. I tackled this two years ago when our daughter started kindergarten. I asked for permission to work a flex schedule, in at 6:30 a.m. and out at 2:45 p.m. I also asked to work from home when needed, especially on writing projects or after 2:45 p.m. I am lucky to work at a progressive and understanding company. Wells Fargo has always supported these opportunities for jobs that make sense. Working from home has many benefits and a few challenges. I enjoy the quiet time in the house; I get a tremendous amount of work done and my productivity spikes. I am able to accomplish and multi-task with emails, conference calls, writing assignments and planning activities. The pitfall is I am never “off.” I am hardline connected nearly 24 hours a day and available on my BlackBerry. When the “bing” of my phone or email goes off, I typically respond like Pavlov’s dog. While I like the flex schedule and working from home, I put in more hours now than ever before. My advice is to set guidelines and live by them both in the office and at home.
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