IKANO's Telecommuting Test Program Yields Productive Results During Winter Olympics

For networking provider and ISP, IKANO Communications, telecommuting during the 2002 Olympic Winter games allowed employees to avoid Olympic traffic, while it allowed the company to test the usability of its high-speed connectivity and the Internet communication tools it develops.

One-third of its 350 employees participated in the three-week trial. "IKANO's telecommuting test program centered around communications because this is IKANO's strength," said marketing director, Debbie LaBelle. "Because IKANO provides high-speed connectivity and communication tools, this was not a tough decision."

The idea for the telecommuting test program came from IKANO's president Garth Howard, and CEO, Henry Smith. Looking at the month of February as being an important month for their business the thought was --- by increasing employee efficiency through telecommuting, IKANO could meet its revenue goals.

The IKANO management team then worked to come up with the parameters for the program and for measuring its end results. "In addition, many IKANO managers are experienced telecommuters," said LaBelle, "which further qualified the team to implement the program without any outside assistance."

To ready employees for telecommuting, IKANO held company-wide meetings and training sessions. "We provided tools and training, and explained how to create a more productive home environment," said LaBelle. In addition, IKANO developed a convenient intranet site that posted telecommuting schedules, contact information, client visit schedules, and Olympics transportation information.

Employees were equipped with laptop computers (if needed - some had computers at home); IKANO's high-speed Internet access (either DSL or wireless access, depending on employee location); IKANO's proprietary Instant Messaging and Unified Communications System (which integrates voice, fax, email, and has a one-number dialed connected to work, cell or home numbers); as well as web cameras for virtual meetings.

All departments participating in the program (management, accounting, networking and creative teams) realized a 15-20 percent gain in productivity. "Employees worked, on average, one to two hours more per day," says LaBelle.

IKANO senior management, based on detailed reports provided by each department manager, reviewed the test program. LaBelle said IKANO measured the program's success via both qualitative and quantitative information. "We are very pleased with the results of the telecommuting test program," said Henry Smith, IKANO Chief Executive Officer.

IKANO's employees experienced encouraging results from using the Internet tools developed by their company. "The tools that were available to everyone made telecommuting easy," said Dave Klar, web designer. "The fact that department schedules and contact information were available for download at anytime to anyone made it very easy to reach co-workers."

"The current tools provided by IKANO make the experience worthwhile," said Customer Relations Management representative, Scott Bunch. "I would recommend continuing the experience on a part-time basis while refining the methods we use to judge success."

IKANO's next step, according to company president Garth Howard, is to further analyze the test results, develop formal policy guidelines, and identify clear performance goals. "We are definitely looking to expand telecommuting," said Howard. "We learned a lot from our telecommuting test program and we will continue to share our experiences, monitor results and make modifications as appropriate."

Aside from the implementation of its telecommuting program, IKANO served as the Official Data Networking Services Supplier for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The IKANO-managed Olympic network performed flawlessly, turning in a gold-medal performance.