Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power utilities, and provides 1.5 million people across the state of Washington power via nuclear, wind, hydro and solar means earned a Better Workplace Award from the Association of Washington Business for its flexible work policies that allow employees to have an optimum work/life balance.
“Energy Northwest has successfully put into place a comprehensive suite of new options to help its employees better take care of their families, as well as their job duties,” according to the business group.
The company is offering employees a flex-time option based on electricity demand, with team members able to telcommute by gaining verbal approval from a superior. From home, workers can leverage Web conferencing and conference call services to keep the lines of communication and collaboration open.
Energy Northwest’s telecommuting option allows for workers to make it to school conferences or a daytime appointment such as the dentist or an electrician coming to your house. The telecommuters are being monitored by a company sanctioned pilot program, and according to Energy Northwest productivity in those workers has risen nearly 9 percent overall.
“This was an effort by employees for employees,” said Brent Ridge, Energy Northwest vice president of corporate services. “We needed to increase the amount of flexibility we had in our work schedules, and this initiative is helping us to do that.”
It is not just employees happy about the new options; the environment is getting a break on carbon emissions. The company estimates its new program to save over 8,000 miles of driving a month—making carbon emission over four tons less a month.
One of the keys to the company’s successful deployment of these new flexible options is training. Management has trained team members on the new policy with the full support of company CEO Mark Redderman. The company expects in the long run to see the initiative reduce worker absences, help retain employees and enhance productivity—so far, so good.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Energy Northwest but for now the new policy appears to be a game changer. The freedom technology affords is forgotten by many, the world is much smaller today than 20 years ago. And, conference call services can provide one in their home office the same level of ‘team play’ as if they were in the office down the hall. Energy Northwest is making employees happy while savings on expenses and environmental strain, there may be a reason telecommuting is gaining popularity.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi