Case studies

Case study #1: Strategic Enrollment Management, Admissions

The challenge/opportunity: In 2012, VCU expanded telecommuting policy.

Benefits to employee(s)

  • Flexibility  
  • No commute
  • More time for family---easier to maintain work/home balance
  • No distractions from office mates
  • Able to complete tasks quicker

Benefits to department/university

  • No real estate
  • No electricity costs
  • Fewer sick days
  • No down time for inclement weather
  • Happier, more productive employee

Lessons learned

  • Employee must have exceptional time management skills
  • Time requirements and communication between employee, office mates, and manager are crucial.

 

Case study #2: Technology Services, Telecommunication Services

The challenge/opportunity:

  • In 2012, VCU expanded telecommuting policy
  • Expiring lease on PCs throughout the department
  • The department includes a call center and teams that support billing, hardware, work order fulfillment and management of assets and vendors for the university and health system telephone system

Benefits to employee(s)

  • Avaya Equinox - accessibility; calls to/from employee represent VCU/VCUHS telephone number
  • All members of department excluding installation/repair technicians participate in telecommuting to some degree.  Most staff members (including those in the call center)  and managers telecommute two out of five days a week. New hires do not participate until employed for six months
  • Reduced gas expense and less wear and tear on vehicles
  • Better life/work balance
  • Less stress (preparing work attire, lunch, traffic)
  • Ends the day at home with no travel time to meet personal needs (child activities, family errands)

Benefits to department/university

  • Building issues: When power or network outages occur at site, employees “work at home” (WAH) and productivity is not lost
  • Less employee absence time
    • Prior to WAH, often half a day is missed due to personal or medical appointments. With WAH, employees typically work prior to or after appointments remotely, missing less work time and remaining productive as work and life needs are balanced
    • When inclement weather occurs, but the university is open, in lieu of taking the liberal leave option when employees do not feel safe getting on the road, or can’t get out of their area, they are able to WAH

Lessons learned

  • When purchasing new PCs for the department, laptops with docking stations were purchased instead of desktop PCs giving staff members the flexibility to work from anywhere.   
  • Initially, employees needed encouragement to call and IM (instant message using Google Hangouts) those WAH. At first, there was a perception of “bothering” the employee and/or “employee is not here” so I need to reach out to someone else.  We quickly worked through this and employee interaction regardless of location is productive.

References

  • Working @ VCU: "Great Place" HR Policies (under policies). See “Alternative Work Arrangements for University and Academic Professionals” section page 32.
  • Telework Agreement form (under forms)