COMPUTER WORLD Publishes Ninth Annual 'Best Places to Work in IT' Survey

Computerworld recently released its 2002 annual list of the top 100 companies for information technology employees. The survey evaluated 230 companies, across about their retention strategies, benefit options, and career development plans. . Ninety percent of the participating companies offer telecommuting programs, and other flexible work arrangements.

Three Connecticut employers were among the list: Aetna, Gartner Inc., and Xerox Corp. "Certainly flexibility is an important element of our success," says Pat Wallington, Xerox's corporate vice president and chief information officer. "I think IT professionals gravitate to the function because they love technology, but I think they like a company like Xerox because our policies make success possible."

"The companies in our Best Places to Work really understand that it takes more than salary increases to keep technology workers satisfied, even in a slowly recovering economy," noted Maryfran Johnson, editor of Computerworld. "Flexibility in corporate structures was a core feature in our Best Places to Work list. The top employers recognize the benefit of striking a balance between work and home and enable employees to flex their intellectual muscles with challenging new projects."

Three years ago, United Stationers, Inc., an office equipment wholesaler worked out a telecommuting arrangement for one of their computer programmer and systems analyst. CIO Ergin Uskup said, "We try to keep a balance for the business and the employee and figure out ways to make it work. After managing a yearlong mainframe migration project, she received the promotion from programmer to MIS project manager.. "I had to earn that," Susan Buccholz says proudly. "I still had to prove that I could manage a project and a team and still work from home. It's been really nice to have this flextime, because I don't think I could work five days in the office."

United Health Technologies, is also working to make telecommuting viable for more managers, "We're making virtual private networks available throughout the company, and as a result, even some high-level IT employees can spend some of their time working from home," says Jim Hudak, CEO of United Health Group. "One member of my staff is running an $85 million development project, and works at home every Friday."

Some employers found ways to get the word out by providing access to databases that contain benefits and other employment-related information, and some employers send out regular notices that alert employees to their options, especially when a new program is launched.

Other employers take it one step further. Executives at Baxter International Inc., a global medical products and services company, found that although they had great programs in place for telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements, many managers didn't know how to go about taking advantage of them. The company now provides templates on their intranet to help employees create a proposal for changing their work arrangements.

"The templates show managers how they can creatively structure the work so that the change can be achieved," says John Moon, Baxter's CIO. "We're showing how evolving a job into a flexible one can be done and still meet our business requirements. It gives staff the ability to meet their personal needs, so when they're working, they can be truly focused

About the survey: From October through December of 2001, Computerworld invited CIOs, vice presidents and IT directors at U.S.-based companies to participate by completing a 75-question survey asking about training and development, salary increases, staff promotions, and turnover rates, along with mentoring program, benefits, flextime, and stock options.