Mason Employees Take Advantage of Flexible Work Options

Posted: October 8, 2009 at 1:01 am, Last Updated: October 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

When Mason was named one of the “Great Colleges to Work For” for the second year in a row by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the magazine cited the university’s commitment to work-life balance. It noted that approximately 693 Mason employees take advantage of one of Mason’s flexible work options.

These options include telework, flextime, compressed schedules, remote work, job sharing and alternate work schedules. With a formal flexible work policy in place since 2002, Mason employees can adjust their work schedule to something other than the traditional workday. With their supervisor’s approval, some employees can also arrange to work at home or on an alternate campus that is closer to home for a portion of the workweek.

Bob Tennant. Photo courtesy of Bob Tennant

Bob Tennant. Photo courtesy of Bob Tennant

Bob Tennant, transportation coordinator in the Office of Parking and Transportation, has been teleworking from his home in Fauquier County, Va., since he joined Mason in November 2008.

Tennant is responsible for all aspects of the Mason Shuttle Services. He creates the shuttle routes and determines the frequency and stops of all the shuttle buses. In addition, Tennant approves requests by Mason departments or offices that want to charter a bus.

“When I first started working at Mason, I tried working remotely from the Prince William Campus since my commute to Fairfax is 47 miles in one direction,” says Tennant. “I soon found out that the lack of cell phone reception at the Prince William Campus made it impossible for me to do my job since I must be in constant communication with the Mason shuttles.”

Tennant also helped implement the Commonwealth Commuter Choice Program at Mason, which gives full-time state employees in Northern Virginia up to $230 per month to commute by public transit or van pool.

Some of Tennant’s other responsibilities include implementing policies that encourage the use of bicycles on campus, and he also determines the location of bike racks and arranges for installation. Tennant also developed a golf cart policy that regulates who can drive the carts and where golf carts can be driven and parked on campus.

Tennant and his supervisor, Josh Cantor, director in the Office of Parking and Transportation, jointly developed a system that would work for both of them. The result is that Tennant teleworks from his home on Fridays and spends the majority of the workweek on the Fairfax Campus. Leading by example, Tennant drives to the Prince William Campus, then takes the Mason shuttle to Fairfax when he travels to and from work Monday through Thursday.

“It just made sense to work from my home on Fridays because that is the day when the Mason shuttles are the least busy,” says Tennant. “I am very thankful that my supervisor was willing to work with me and do everything he could to make my commute easier.”

Tennant was given a laptop computer to use when he works from home. The laptop is equipped with software that allows him to access files on his desktop computer in his office. The only challenge he has encountered, notes Tennant, is that he doesn’t have a fax machine. Other than that, everything operates seamlessly.

“Being able to save money on my travel expenses each week has made me very thankful to be working at Mason,” says Tennant. “Knowing that the university is willing to work with me makes me much more willing to go above and beyond my normal job responsibilities and contributes to my overall job satisfaction.”

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