Here to stay work-from-home policies for many Idaho employers

What may have started as a mandatory pandemic practice has quickly become popular due to the convenience it provides for employees.

BOISE, Idaho – This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

Since the pandemic began, employers in Treasure Valley have struggled with how to balance the demands of their jobs with employees’ desire to work from home.

What may have started as a mandatory pandemic practice has quickly become popular due to the convenience it provides for employees.

But the roles range from those that can be played at home to those that cannot. And not all workers have embraced remote work with the same enthusiasm.

The Idaho Press sat down with a handful of Treasure Valley employers to find out what remote work policies they’ve designed to respond to the moment.

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, City of Boise employees began working from home almost overnight, said Sarah Borden, the city’s director of human resources. Now, the city has moved to a hybrid program that identifies roles that may be remote and allows departments to meet employee schedules and departmental needs.

“We’ve found, like other employers, that employees really like having this hybrid work option,” said Borden, who started in early 2021.

Although not all employees want to work remotely, 68% of positions in the city are remotely eligible, Borden said.

Some employees said they want to work in person because they’re single and work is where they have good social time, Borden said. On the other hand, for married employees whose spouse works from home, in-person work can allow for better focus, she said.

Departments also vary in how often they need employees to be in person. For example, some departments that are more open to the public have designed schedules that allow each employee to work from home one day a week on a rotating basis, Borden said.

Other roles, such as payroll staff, can do their jobs primarily from home, if they choose, Borden said.

“It’s based on the work that needs to be done and our need to be present with each other and with members of our community,” she said.

Defining roles eligible for remote work based on the ability to do so remotely also helped avoid disgruntled employees, Borden said.

“It’s really based on the work that needs to be done,” Borden said. “He’s the driver and that takes away some of the emotion, I think.”

ST. LUKE’S HEALTH SYSTEM

Before the pandemic began, the only St. Luke’s Health System employees who were eligible to work from home were a small subset of fully remote employees, said Taylor Reeves, the hospital’s public relations coordinator. , by email. The hospital’s policy now includes categories for fully remote workers, as well as hybrid workers, Reeves said.

“As a healthcare organization, our work has a strong focus on hands-on delivery of exceptional patient care, which typically requires our team members to perform their jobs in a traditional work environment,” said Reeves. .

“For some roles that support the delivery of patient care indirectly, the traditional work environment has undergone extraordinary changes and full or partial remote work is rapidly gaining wide acceptance with the strong adoption and significant advancements of the technology and workplace collaboration tools.”

Working from home can make people feel more creative, which can lead to greater personal satisfaction, which in turn can lead to better work-life “synergy” and a desire to stay in the role, said Reeves.

“St. Luke’s has evolved its remote work strategy to meet the changing needs of our workforce, which has enabled us to recruit and retain diverse, high-level talent; provide a safe work environment; increase team member satisfaction; and optimize our physical space requirements in an increasingly competitive job market,” said Reeves.

Before the pandemic began, Idaho Power allowed occasional remote work on a case-by-case basis, said Sarah Griffin, the company’s vice president of human resources. But like other employers, Idaho Power employees who could work from home at the start of the pandemic did so, said Sven Berg, the company’s communications specialist.

Over the past six months, the company has decided to move to a one-day-a-week in-person work policy, he said.

“The idea was to bring us back more easily to an office presence,” Berg said.

Now, any employee with the ability to work from home can do so for up to two days a week, Berg said.

Additionally, certain roles are now eligible for four non-consecutive weeks of remote work, Griffin said. That could be useful if an employee wants to work remotely while on vacation or if they’re working on a special project that would benefit from a full week of remote time to work on it, Griffin said.

Employees eligible for remote work include office staff, such as IT and human resources employees, Berg said.

“Obviously, if someone runs into a utility pole and knocks it down, you can’t fix it from home,” Berg said.

Employees who must be in the field and employees who work in an office but use specialized monitoring equipment are a few examples of roles that aren’t eligible for working from home, Berg said.

About 40% of the company’s workforce is eligible for remote work, Griffin said.

The pandemic has highlighted role differences, with not all employees able to work remotely, Griffin said.

“I think it’s human nature to look over the fence,” Griffin said. “I think there’s been some recognition that ‘hey, it would be nice if I had that flexibility'” from employees whose positions aren’t conducive to remote working, Griffin said. But the roles vary widely in the benefits they offer, with some offering overtime and others with a structure that could make it easier to get off to work, she said. Overall, there hasn’t been a huge pushback on remote work policies, she said.

The amount of employees who like remote work varies, Griffin said. Some feel extremely productive at home, while others found they were working a lot more than usual because they could get out of bed and start their work day without having to move, he said. she declared. They realized it was beneficial to have some separation between office and home, she said.

For hardware maker Micron, many roles within the company involve hands-on research and development work done in labs, explained April Arnzen, the company’s director of human resources. Still, the pandemic has prompted the company to explore its remote work offerings.

“Across many industries and in remote working, especially in tech, the work-from-anywhere phenomenon that’s been happening throughout COVID has really changed the way companies think and how they approach their workforce and their workforce footprint,” Arnzen said.

For Micron, that meant considering a multi-pronged approach to its remote work policies that accounts for different types of work. For example, workers involved in research may work largely in person, but part of their work may include writing lab reports, which can be done from home, Arnzen said. If employees aren’t doing hands-on manufacturing work, they might choose to work from home.

The company opted to develop a “virtual days program,” in which employees are given a set number of days they can work from home per year, Arnzen said.

“It’s not part of their established curriculum,” she said. “They can use them when and where appropriate.”

Other employees operate on a hybrid model that is part of their fixed schedule, working onsite three days a week and offsite two, Arnzen said. This can include up to 12 days per year working from anywhere. For example, if a family is going to Florida for a vacation and the employee wants to work some of those days, they can. The limit on days worked out of state is due to tax considerations, Arnzen said.

The company also just announced that certain roles will be allowed to work 100% remotely, she said.

Who wants to work from home varies from person to person. For example, recent college graduates have been eager to work on campus at least some of the time, Arnzen said.

“They don’t want to work entirely remotely, but we also know that others, depending on their living situation, may want to work entirely remotely,” she said. “So we’re tailoring this program to really appeal to a broad audience and make sure they feel included.”

This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press. Learn more at IdahoPress.com

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