State of Arizona Telework Overview
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.
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!
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%
employees in Maricopa County actively participating. Because of
State teleworkers, we can all breathe a little easier.
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 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.
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.
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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 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
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
refer to your specific agency rules and policy regarding Virtual