Many companies still wary of using the efficient work-type for their businesses
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/14/2013 -- When Aetna was concerned with losing talent after it closed offices following its acquisition of U.S. Healthcare Inc. in 1996, it let certain employees work from home. A decade past and only 9% of insurers' employees work from home full time.
In the mid-2000s, insurers began to see working from home as a viable option for employees. "There was a point where we realized that there was an opportunity to drive down costs, particularly real-estate costs," said Elease Wright, senior vice president for human resources, who works at Aetna's Hartford, Conn., headquarters.
Currently, there are 47% of Aetna's 35,000 U.S. Employees that work from their respective homes. Those individuals are not simply clicking on emails throughout the day, but doing everyday work full time from home.
Dan Delucia, the Aetna's Vice President of negotiation sector that deals with pacts with doctors and hospitals, has been working from his home in Syracuse, N.Y. For nine years. "At first I was hesitant," he said. "I was concerned about how you manage from afar. We didn't have instant messaging. We didn't have video capabilities up to the speed we have today."
"What I learned very quickly was that I actually spoke more and communicated more…than when I was face-to-face in an office," he added, recalling the days gone by when he exchanged emails with those who worked in arms-length from him in an office.
A growing number of U.S. Employers encourage telecommuting, with about 20% of employees at Cigna Corp, another hartford-area insurer, work directly from their own residence.
The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation found that nearly 9.4 million Americans worked from home exclusively for their primary job in 2010. That is 6.6% of workers, which was a rise of nearly 2% from the 4.8% in 1997.
Still, few employers have taken the telecommuting concept as far as Aetna. That makes the company either an outlier of the business paradigm, or a pioneer for the future of business.
In today's society, working at home is for those jobs that revolve specifically around the keyboard, telephone, and internet. Aetna staff are required to have a quiet place that they can utilize for consistent and professional-style work. The company requires and pays for the office furniture needed as well as a locked file cabinet and shredder, as needed.
"I converted one of the bedrooms into an office with a space heater so I don't have to turn on the heat in the rest of the house," said Susan O'Donnell, a Northfield, Conn., nurse. She transitioned from working in a hospital to becoming an Aetna case manager over a decade ago, and has continued that at-home work for the past seven years. She states that the flexibility, the lack of frustrating commutes, and the time in closer proximity to family are all instrumental in her enjoyment in the job.
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