Senior Programming Analyst Telecommutes Coast To Coast

From his home office in Madison, Connecticut, Kris Iverson telecommutes coast to coast as a senior programming analyst for Zenith Administrators, Inc. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, the company provides employee benefits administration for unions and employer pools that are self-funded in health plans and pensions.

Iverson said Zenith Administrators adopted their telecommuting program to achieve several business goals:

"In addition to telecommuting, they started a program of satellite data processing facilities in the suburbs north of Seattle," Iverson said.

Last fall, Iverson and his family moved from the northwest to Madison, Connecticut. In order for Kris to be able to telecommute, Zenith created a Virtual Private Network (VPN) - a system that lets you connect to a corporate network via the internet. The company's VPN allowed secure remote access to both the main computer and the company networks. Iverson initiated procedural changes in the way programming project request orders and employee time sheets were handled. Prior to his telecommuting, project orders were placed in Iverson's in-basket and each person on the team would self-assign their work by taking requests out of the basket. Time sheets were collected, reviewed and physically signed by Iverson before being submitted to the supervisor. With Iverson telecommuting, 'common area files' were created on the network for the time sheets and the work assignments. This new system wound up streamlining the work process. "It's proven to be very efficient to have a place on the server where these things can be for me and the other programmers."

Looking back to when he made the transition to full-time telecommuting, Iverson said he learned how working from Madison was a benefit to him and his company. "If I'm heavily involved in something I'm working on, I can get more uninterrupted time in on it," Iverson said. "Being a senior person lends itself to getting a lot of visits at your desk, and while there's nothing to prevent them from calling me or emailing, interruptions don't happen quite as much."

"One of the things I was able to offer the company was - in terms of the time difference - when I log onto the system for the day, I can check and fix the overnight batch processing at five o'clock Seattle time," Iverson says. "It's worked out to be an added benefit to the company to have me here."

To communicate with those back in Seattle, Iverson has regularly scheduled teleconferences with his supervisor and the business analysts (who generate the project requests) when they review the status of the projects. Aside from that, he relies on calls and emails to stay in communication with the other programmers on his team. "Overall, my impression of telecommuting is, in some ways I think it would be hard to go back."