Flexible Work Option Creates Mason-Miami Connection

Posted: January 13, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Imagine being able to roll out of bed in the morning, grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen, sit down at your desk that overlooks a Miami lake and begin work for the day — without getting out of your pajamas.

This is the case for one Mason employee who takes advantage of Mason’s flexible work options offered by the Office of Human Resources and Payroll (HR). A formal flexible work policy has been in place since 2002.

Tara Hammond
Tara Hammond
Photo courtesy of Tara Hammond

Tara Hammond, resource manager in the School of Management (SOM), is an HR liaison and manages the budget for the dean’s office and areas within the school. She first signed on to Mason’s flexible work policy in the spring of 2003 when she began a pilot program with SOM to telework from her home a few days per week.

“At the time, my husband was in law school and we only had one car, so it was very difficult trying to get to work every day,” says Hammond. “My supervisor had read articles and research about teleworking and suggested that we give it a try.”

The teleworking pilot project was a success. So when Hammond and her husband relocated to Denver in 2004, she was able to work with her supervisor, Dave Harr, senior associate dean in SOM, and HR to create a formal remote working arrangement.

Since then, Hammond has worked remotely from Salt Lake City and is now based in Miami.

Although not every job is suited for flexible work options, Hammond’s is. All of the programs she uses are web-based and accessible from her home computer. Even a few years ago, she notes, most of the programs and software she uses on a daily basis were not accessible on the Internet.

Hammond also uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows her to use a Mason phone number and receive faxes and voicemails through e-mail.

While employees benefit from flexible work options, the university benefits as well. The practice supports the state’s initiative to have 20 percent of eligible Virginia state employees teleworking by 2010. In addition, the university is seeing increased job retention while the need for campus office space and parking is reduced. When more people telework, there are fewer cars to contribute to traffic congestion. The option also boosts employee morale.

Hammond says she is especially thankful that she has been able to continue to grow professionally in her position without having to start over again at a new job every time she relocates.

Some of the other benefits she acknowledges are being able to use web-enabled technology applications she might otherwise not have been exposed to, saving time and money by avoiding a long commute, being more productive at home without the nonwork-related office interruptions and having an overall higher job satisfaction.

Although she loses valuable face time with her colleagues by not being in the office, Hammond, her colleagues and supervisor have adjusted. They communicate daily through phone calls and e-mail and have a monthly conference call to make sure they are all on the same page.

“I feel very fortunate that Mason and SOM are such strong proponents of flexible work options and have been willing to work with my unique situation,” says Hammond.

“By giving me the ability to first telework and now work remotely, SOM has communicated its trust and confidence in me that I can produce results without constant observations. As a result of this trust and confidence, I try to go above and beyond my normal job responsibilities to do everything I can to benefit the university and SOM.”

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