Partnerships Help Increase Connectciut Business Awareness of Telecommuting

Building on the success of helping 130 companies across the state with nearly 4,000 teleworkers develop telecommuting strategies, Telecommute Connecticut now makes their best practices available through Metro Chambers of Commerce as a value added member benefit.

“Our goal, with Metro Chamber partnerships, is to provide a valuable business tool for their members which combines professional knowledge and expertise with practical applications,” said James Lush, project manager of Telecommute Connecticut.

Over the last two years, Telecommute Connecticut formed partnerships with nine Metro Chambers serving business members in high-traffic commuter locations. Emphasis has been placed on presentations, workshops, and other joint communications initiatives designed to increase Chamber member awareness of the benefits of telecommuting and the free services offered by Telecommute Connecticut.

The partnership benefits chambers and business council members and their employees, according to Lush, "by making member employers aware of the positive impact that telecommuting can make on their bottom lines, and giving them access to the professional services offered by Telecommute Connecticut at no cost.”

In Fairfield County, where solutions for traffic congestion were discussed, companies received input on the role telecommuting could have as a solution. “Through our Member Leadership Dialogues we are able to share common commuting concerns and make area business decision-makers aware of telecommuting advantages for qualified employees with job relevant portable tasks,” said Christopher P. Bruhl, President and CEO of SACIA, the Business Council Of Southwestern Connecticut.

In addition to larger Chamber functions, members are provided with the opportunity to assess their business needs along side the benefits of telecommuting in seminars and one-on-one meetings.

Seminars on specific topics are produced in response to feedback from Chamber members. Recently, a seminar on ‘Managing the Human Resources and Legal Issues of Telecommuting’, came about because HR member executives wanted to know how to manage a telecommuting program while minimizing employer risks. These seminars generally include Telecommute Connecticut team members including Lush; consulting HR professional Laura Collins; as well as a leading area employment attorney well versed in employee liability issues such as workers compensation.

When employers attending the seminars are asked if they have employees who do at least some of their work from home or off-site locations, just about every hand in the room is usually raised. This confirms telecommuting is already part of the culture in many companies, both large and small. “The real issue”, according to Collins, “is how effectively is it managed? And since the telework site is an extension of the business site, issues such as confidentiality and workers comp must be addressed.”

“With the right documentation, trained managers and teleworkers, and appropriate home office requirements, you can manage telecommuting while making it work for the business,” said Collins. The trick, according to Collins, is to design your telecommuting program to objectively sort out potentially unqualified teleworkers, while opening the door to those with the greatest potential to succeed. “When telecommuting initiatives conform to this goal, it is not unusual to see up to 20 percent increases in employee productivity along with additional improvements in morale, commitment and loyalty.”

"We enjoy partnering with Telecommute Connecticut to help our members and their employees better understand and apply telecommuting as a flexible worksite option,” said Paul S. Timpanelli, President & CEO - Bridgeport Regional Business Council. “Many times this involves assisting local area businesses in the design, implementation and maintenance of telecommuting programs that deliver measurable bottom-line results.”

In this regard, one-on-one member meetings with combined Chamber and Telecommute Connecticut Senior Executives have proved extremely beneficial. "One of the Danbury Chamber's most effective partnership initiatives has been one-on-one meetings with our business members to evaluate the cost-performance benefits of establishing a flexible telecommuting option for job qualifying employees," said Stephen A. Bull, President - Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.

Through the partnership, Chamber members have a greater awareness of telecommuting as a human capital management tool and have benefited from the no cost advisory services available from Telecommute Connecticut.

Tony Rescigno, President of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce agrees, adding, "I'm delighted to be partnering with the folks at Telecommute Connecticut because it's truly a worthwhile program. So many people are trying to find ways to get around traffic problems, and this is the way to do it. Plus, people can be extremely effective working from home. So we will be encouraging our members to support telecommuting."

Participating organizations are: The Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, Metro Hartford Chamber of Commerce, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and SACIA. The partnership is funded by The Connecticut Department of Transportation.