How Cox Communications joined the teleworking revolution

Cox uses Citrix desktop virtualization to deliver to teleworkers the same software applications used by office workers

New hires or those transitioning from office work to telework are "nested" in an office setting designed to mimic the home office, with a standard PC, cable modem and a phone. That way they learn the call center job with supervisors on hand before they start doing the job at home.

The company estimates it saves about US$3,400 per year, per call center agent, based on the cost of a computer, its software, a phone and a cubicle. Cox also avoids the costs of office space, energy and providing employee parking.

A 2006 Telework Coalition benchmarking study, based on a survey of 13 coalition member companies, showed that they saved between US$3,000 and US$10,000 per employee in real estate costs. Cox was not part of the survey.

Cox takes care that its teleworkers not be isolated in their home office environment, says nelson. The company requires teleworkers to travel to the regional office once every one or two weeks for meetings and also uses video conferencing to stay in touch.

"Working from home doesn't mean they want to be alone," Nelson says. "We don't want to lose our company culture, we don't want to lose the connection with our employees."

Managing teleworkers requires a different style than managing office-based workers, but it goes beyond making them come into the office on occasion, The Teleworker Coalition's Wilsker says.

"For too many people, managing is seeing somebody's ass in a chair," Wilsker says. A manager of a large work force may not interact much with his or her employees even if they are in the office, so having workers in the office doesn't by itself mean they are better managed.

Instead, he says, managing teleworkers should be based on a measure of how much work they are getting done, not whether the manager sees them face-to-face.

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Robert Mullins

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