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Making the shift to telecommuting

Today’s world is rapidly changing to accommodate modern technology. Access to high-speed internet, smartphones, and an endless amount of new data allow us to do so much, including adjust the way we work and live. Many careers have the option for remote work now, which benefits both employers and employees. Even with these capabilities, few expected emergency management to be a field in which remote work would be possible. You may be surprised to learn how common this actually is now.

The history of remote work in government throughout the last 30 or so years reflects its path to becoming a common option today in most industries. In 1990, the Federal Government backed the remote telecommuting trend by implementing the Federal Flexible Workplace Pilot Project. The benefits this project exhibited led to Congress approving legislation that allocated funding toward providing work-related equipment and utilities in the private homes of select federal employees. After this, President Clinton issued a memorandum that directed executive branch agencies to create more “flexible family-friendly work arrangements,” including telecommuting. More recently, President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement act of 2010, requiring all federal executive agencies to establish a policy under which eligible employees are authorized to telework. This allowed for greater flexibility in the management of teleworkers and created a platform on which to build more extensive opportunities for emergency workers to telecommute.

Although telecommuting has existed for quite some time, it has gained noticeable momentum over the past 5 years. This recent evolution involves a 40% growth rate in the number of employers offering a work from home option. According to the NY Times, 43% of employed Americans in 2016 said they spent at least some time working remotely- a 4% jump since 2012. Employees in the community, law and public policy industries actually reported some of the highest remote work rates of workers surveyed.

Public safety is a unique field, and there are many aspects of public safety telecommuting that are different from most remote jobs. One of the reasons that telework has become so common in the field is because it is important for public safety personnel to practice telework on a regular basis. The reasoning behind this is that in the case of an emergency when telework is necessary, these personnel will be comfortable with the routine and no problems should occur. In a crisis, public safety workers are essential in helping people- regardless of whether they can work in their offices or not.

Whether you are a project manager, safety manager, auditor or inspector- there are an abundance of remote public safety positions available. Working from home has never been easier- that is, if you have the right equipment to do so.

Considering the mission-critical aspect of public safety, it is essential to utilize the proper equipment.  Apart from needing a high-speed internet connection and a reliable computer, communication is key when working from home, so having a high-quality desk phone and/or headset is a must. Having this equipment provided by an experienced public safety communications equipment provider ensures that teleworkers have secure communication networks for non-public information. Additionally, it is important to have professional-grade equipment rather than the personal items you already possess. Separating your work phone from your cell or house phone also allows you to create a distinction between your business and personal life. This is especially important when working from home where it is much easier for these worlds to encroach upon each other, leading to unnecessary stress.

Desk phones are an extremely reliable source of communication and are a great resource for a home office. However, if you spend a significant amount of time on the phone, it would be ideal to have a headset. Considering how many hours you could spend on it, it’s important to find a comfortable, high-quality product. Sencommunications has 30 years of experience providing communication products and services to the public safety field. They offer a wide range of phones and headsets, as well as wireless presentation systems for upper-level management to use. These tools enable a team to extensively interact from anywhere in the world.

Wireless presentation systems have been a huge step in the last 5 years for those who telecommute. Creating connections, no matter where each user is, these innovative products allow for effective collaboration and are a great tool for remote employees. The addition of new technology like this is what has made remote work more sensible and appealing over the years.

All of this considered, telecommuting for a public safety job is obviously very possible. What’s more, there are countless benefits that come along with implementing this option. On the employee side, it enables one to save money on gas, relieves the stress of commuting, and often allows for better productivity due to fewer distractions. On the employer side, this makes room to save money on office space and equipment, generally keeps employees more satisfied with the flexibility of their jobs, and has been shown to increase engagement in employees. Making the shift to telecommuting can be a positive decision for all parties involved.

While there are some positions that are not yet capable of being performed remotely, it is important to step back and consider whether telecommuting could be a productive solution for you or your team. The leaps and bounds we make with the implementation of new technology will only increase in the coming years, allowing for even more effective future remote work.