SOURCE: Telework South Florida

September 24, 2009 10:33 ET

Teleworking Catching on in South Florida

Benefits Include Saving Money and Keeping Employees Happy

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL--(Marketwire - September 24, 2009) - What began as a pilot program for Western Union's Sunrise office last year is now gaining more steam at other businesses across South Florida. Teleworking, or telecommuting, is the ability to work from home or satellite office one or more days a week. Western Union Human Resources director Sara Baker said their telework program began with 15 percent of their 180 employees, and the results were better than expected.

"We surveyed all teleworking employees and found that 100 percent of employees saved money and 89% say they enjoyed more work/life balance after the program," said Baker.

The program also paid off financially for the company. Baker estimates each cubicle in the Sunrise office costs Western Union about $10,000 per year. After implementing the telework program, Baker said Western Union was able to eliminate the need for additional space, at a potential seven-figure cost savings over five years. "We think of telework as a business solution that brings added value to our employees, and to the community," Baker said.

Western Union's pilot is not the only success story. Telework South Florida, part of South Florida Commuter Services (SFCS), promotes telework programs to help companies save money while reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. Telework benefits include reduced office space requirements, increased employee productivity and morale, and a decreased use of sick leave.

"Teleworking is definitely on the rise," said Suzell Hopman, Miami-Dade Outreach Coordinator for Telework South Florida. "Companies realize the value and then start thinking about developing a formal program."

Despite well-documented benefits of teleworking, some businesses are concerned with remotely managing employee productivity and deciding who gets to telecommute.

Elham Shirazi, a member of the Telework South Florida Team, has more than 25 years of experience in developing telework programs. Shirazi says these barriers can be overcome by fluid communication between managers and employees.

"Through regular contact via email or phone, not much changes about managing productivity," she says. "On the other hand, teleworking employees must also have the right skills and self-motivation, the remote access and connectivity to work."

For more information on how to incorporate telework programs in your office visit Telework South Florida at www.teleworksouthflorida.com/.

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