When Geraldine “Gerry” Slawek looks for a new hospital coder for her department, the candidate’s distance from campus, or the threat of an ominous commute never comes to mind. Slawek heads up a department of 20 hospital coders, most of whom work from home.
“Telecommuting really expands our reach to find great talent. It’s a morale booster, and it also allows us to keep our best people,” said Slawek, director of outpatient coding at UHealth.
Flexible work arrangements are not new at the University of Miami, but are used sporadically and, for the past seven years, offered mostly through the popular flexible summer workweek program to some employees. But that may change.
Nerissa Morris, vice president of human resources, is looking to expand workplace flexibility beyond one season and has appointed an employee work group, which meets every two weeks, to assess existing policies and practices and identify new structures for workplace flexibility that can create new options across the University.
“We want to take a new approach in meeting the needs of the workforce and operations through the development of competitive and relevant strategies and policies for workplace flexibility,” said Morris.
The goal is to provide a set of guidelines and recommendations to leadership this fall. Employees who have experience with flexible work arrangements at UM are encouraged to share their story by completing a brief questionnaire.
“Flexible arrangements can work really well if done correctly,” Slawek said. “Leaders should look at their management controls and put structures in place before attempting to implement telecommuting agreements.”
Slawek established guidelines and expectations to ensure that work continues to run smoothly. New team members participate in a minimum 60-day onboarding period where they are evaluated on quality, production, and communication.
Melissa Pino, HR manager at the Miller School of Medicine and a member of the employee work group, is excited to share her experience as a full-time telecommuter.
Six months ago, when she learned that she had to move to Nashville, Tennessee, she was both excited and devastated.
“I really didn’t want to leave the University, which I love,” said Pino.
Today, Pino continues her same routine each day before going to work. She says the only thing that’s changed is the view from her office.
“We have a scheduled call every Monday morning to discuss projects,” Pino said. “There is also open communication via email, calls, and text messages throughout the week. And I have regular one-on-one’s with my boss.”
“I’m always connected to the U, regardless of where I am,” she said.