This webpage is reserved for the State of Arizona employees (non-university) in Maricopa County.

 

 

State of Arizona Telework Program

Office of Travel Reduction Programs

100 N. 15th Avenue, Suite 431

Phoenix, Arizona  85007

(602) 542-7433

 

Overview of Telework and Virtual Office

 

Overview

 

 

 

Definitions

 

 

Virtual Office

 

 

State of Arizona Telework Overview

 

Telework is a powerful management option that allows selected employees to work from home, or a State office location closer to home, one or more days a week. For some employees telework offers a more productive working environment with fewer distractions that results in better job performance, improved employee morale and job satisfaction, reduced absenteeism and sick leave usage. Telework can also help retain valued employees and help recruit top quality new people while improving the quality of life in our communities.

 

The State of Arizona is a diverse organization with more than 20,000 employees in Maricopa County, representing 100 very different agencies, residing in separate buildings. The State of Arizona’s Telework Program has served as a model and resource for employers internationally for nearly two decades. Telework is effective and the State of Arizona is just one good example!

 

Telework is such a success for the State of Arizona that agencies are mandated to implement the State’s program with the goal of having 20% of State employees in Maricopa County actively participating. Because of State teleworkers, we can all breathe a little easier.

 

Definitions

 

Telework is an umbrella term for working arrangements that substitute technology for the time and expense of travel. Some of these alternate terms are telecommute, virtual office (though somewhat different), hoteling, and satellite office. Not all these forms of telework are utilized by the State.

 

Telework/Telecommuting - Telework is a management option that allows an employee to work from home or a State office close to home. For some agencies the teleworker’s home becomes the duty post on a part time or full time basis. Teleworkers may be field workers who begin and end the day at home. All teleworkers eliminate the traditional commute on telework days whether or not they are in travel status during the workday. Telework often gets the employee closer to his/her customers on telework days.

 

Virtual Office - In this option, staff are offered the option of exchanging their main office space for the technology required to work independent of the main office. Employees typically receive a computer and connectivity to access work files and databases remotely. Though under the Telework umbrella, Virtual Office is not, by definition, telework as the home base is the actual office.

 

Satellite Office - These are typically operated by and for a single agency. Many organizations are finding it makes sense to open satellite offices to reduce commute times for employees and customers which also helps alleviate city traffic and parking congestion problems. Satellite centers may or may not include hoteling.

 

Common Myths About Telework

 

The statements below are myths commonly heard in any organization where telework is being introduced. These myths are perpetuated by lack of experience or information about telework and can become barriers to the adoption of telework.

 

"I won't know they're working at home."

Supervisors discover they are better able to monitor the work by shifting the focus from how much work the employee looks like he or she is accomplishing to how much he or she actually is accomplishing. By focusing on the work product instead of the work activity, many supervisors find they are better able to communicate clear expectations to their employees. When supervisors and teleworkers agree on job expectations, it often leads to increases in employee productivity and job satisfaction. Many supervisors already use this method of management by results.

 

"Teleworkers must have a computer to work from home."

You may only require a telephone to work from home on a part-time basis.  Many employees collect tasks to do at home during the week that do not require special equipment. A computer is not required to telework.  However, considering how electronic our world has become, it is helpful to have access to a computer should an office issue arise that requires emailing a document. Many employees find the opportunity to telework is so worthwhile they choose to use their personal equipment when equipment is not available from their offices. Some agencies provide laptops for employees to sign out and take home. Job requirements such as computers, short notice meetings, and access to reference material at the job location are things to factor in when considering telework.

 

"Teleworkers are not available when you need them."

Teleworkers work with their supervisors during training to create an individual agreement where responsibilities are restructured to maintain work group integrity and plan how they will maintain communication with the office and what will be done to meet contingencies. If the teleworker is needed, he or she may be asked to come in to the office or join an emergency staff meeting by conference call.

 

"Telework is not for everyone, so it's not fair."

Offering the opportunity to work at home is a management option; telework is not a universal employee benefit. Supervisors may select employees who have the right tasks, abilities and circumstances at home necessary to telework. But an employee's participation in the State's telework program is entirely voluntary. Telework is not for everyone and not everyone wants it. The focus on fairness can be deceiving. We all have different needs. Rather, look at fairness as offering several flexible work options like flextime or compressed work weeks so most everyone will have the opportunity to get the flexibility they need when they need it.

 

"Everyone will want to telework."

Most people prefer the normal work week. Everyone does not want or need the same flexibility in the work place. Flexibility in the workplace is not usually offered as a universal employee benefit, but at the option of management. A State employee with information handling tasks at least part of the time may be a candidate for telework. Successful teleworkers are self-motivated and results-oriented employees who work well independently. They need minimal supervision, are currently successful in setting priorities, meet deadlines and take the initiative to communicate with team members. Beyond this, they need the right atmosphere and equipment to work from home.

 

"Equipment will be expensive."

Many employees find the opportunity to telework is so worthwhile they choose to use their personal equipment when equipment is not available from their offices. Some agencies have computers that people can take home.

 

"Teleworkers cause more work for supervisors."

Managing employees on a flexible schedule will require more communication of the work product and expectations. One of the extra benefits of flexible work options is that it forces management by task and objective. Many supervisors have found that the increase in quality communication with employees has reduced their overall workload over time. Reduced interaction with co-workers also forces communications to be more direct and professional.

 

"Teleworkers cause more work for co-workers."

Before telework, supervisors and teleworkers go through several training exercises to help them determine how they will manage their normal office duties without burdening co-workers.

 

"The public would not support State employees working from home."

Contrary to popular belief, the public understands the need for flexibility in the workplace and is in favor of offering the opportunity to qualified State employees.

 

"Our employees deal with confidential information so they can't telework."

Information security is a legitimate concern but telework should not create a significantly greater concern than is currently the case in the office. State telework policies stipulate that restricted access materials not leave the office without supervisory approval. Again, teleworker/supervisor training and Telework Agreements are used to answer the individual concerns and needs of each teleworker, supervisor and their non-teleworking co-workers. During the training, supervisors and teleworkers will go through several exercises to help them take a closer look at what it will be like to work apart from the office one or more days a week. Worksheets help them identify and resolve potential complications before they become problems. While State employees considered immediate access to information and reference materials to be important to their jobs, teleworkers were less likely to find this a barrier to telework.

 

Here is a link for some additional Myths and Truths About Telework.

 

Virtual Office Overview

 

Multiple issues continue to impact State operations, including low wages, difficulty finding well qualified candidates, high absenteeism and turnover rates, an aging workforce, and budget constraints that require agencies to “do more with less.” Virtual Office (VO) is an effective way of minimizing the impacts of these issues while creating a better, more flexible work environment for State employees.

 

What Is Virtual Office?

Virtual Office fulfills the roles of a traditional office site utilizing the employee’s home as their worksite by interfacing employees electronically to documents, other employees, and their managers. To formally explain Virtual Office it is imperative to define both Virtual Office and Virtual Office Worker:

 

Virtual Office

A Virtual Office is defined as “a fully functional worksite that is not bound to a specific location but is portable and scalable, connecting employees to the work process in the most advantageous setting, rather than employees having to come to a central office site to connect to the work process.”

 

Virtual Office Worker

A Virtual Office Worker is defined as “an employee consistently working at home or at a remote location with no designated work space or computer equipment provided at a State office.”

 

Please refer to your specific agency rules and policy regarding Virtual Offices.

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