In 1996, Sikorsky
Aircraft unveiled its first telecommute program in an effort to combat changing
demographics of the workforce, increases in absenteeism, tardiness and turnover,
low morale and an increase in the cost of office space and overhead. However,
use of the telework program was very low. Insufficient management buy-in to the
policy translated into a perception among employees that participating in the
program would stall their careers.
The Managing Flexibility for Productivity program was designed to promote acceptance
of the telecommute program among both managers and employees. Defining the formal
policy process to make the program consistent, it provided tools to prepare
and analyze telework proposals and trained management to re-examine workplace
perceptions that had previously undermined telecommuting. This new effort also
included a testimonial videotape from all levels of management and an explanation
of the positive impact of telecommuting on the bottom line.
After incorporating feedback from the launch of a pilot program, an extensive
training program was initiated for all staff. Initially, the time that company-wide
training would entail seemed aan obstacle to immediate implementation. Over
time, however, the 10-month duration proved to be a blessing in disguise: as
participation began, successes mounted and word of mouth spread about the benefits
a solid business case when implementing… ather data on where flexible
work arrangements can effect the bottom line in areas such as technology,
customer service, office space, or re-engineering …”
- Manufacturers Can Telecommute: There are portable elements
in jobs suited for telework at all employers, including manufacturers.
- 36% Male Participation: Contrary to stereotypes that telecommuting
is only suited for mothers with young children, fully 36% of Sikorsky’s
teleworkers are male.
- Attitude Change In Workforce: Now, telecommuting is perceived
as a viable, flexible option to meet the goals of both employer and employee.
- Innovation Award: Sikorsky was awarded the
1997 Innovation Excellence Award from the Alliance of Work/Life Professionals.
-Marcia P. Ellis, formerly of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Stratford,