Several months ago, I read about Jet Blue's use of homesourcing in Thomas Friedman's book , The World is Flat. The idea is simple and elegant. For some staff functions, those relying mainly on computers and telephone, why not allow people to work from home and avoid the mess of commuting? Also, people who are otherwise tied to home for physical or family reasons can be active members of the workforce and get better jobs if they are permitted to work from home.
We decided to run a pilot for some of our coders (the people who review medical procedures to provide proper billing formats for the insurance companies), and our CIO, John Halamka, writes about the experience in CIO Magazine. As you can see, doing this for a hospital is a bit more complicated that for an airline, because there are major and important concerns about privacy that have to be met. As John notes in the article, "If employees are to access sensitive health data from their homes, I need to investigate biometric devices, re-examine application time-outs, strengthen surveillance of audit logs and ensure end-to-end security from data center to the home."
The results overall were very positive on many fronts. "The flexible work arrangements improved employees' quality of life. They're not stressed or tired from commuting so much, and they're saving money on parking and gas." Also, "Coders are challenging to hire in Boston due to the large number of hospitals competing for a small number of qualified employees, so flexible work arrangements enable us to hire without geographic restrictions. Given the IT job market and the difficulty of recruiting replacements, the benefit of such flexibility cannot be overstated when you have a seasoned employee who knows your systems well. We were able to retain a coder who moved and we included her in our pilot."
But it is important to be sensitive to and respectful of individual preferences. As John notes, "One coder who lives by herself said she felt distracted at home and missed the social interaction with coworkers. Another coder who also lives alone loved working at home since she experienced no interruptions and got more done."
Please read the article for a full description and see if this might make sense for your organization.