WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
A Tough Economy Calls for
Allowing employees to work remotely
has been a hot topic this year in the
association world, especially with the
tough economy and employees’ desire for
increased flexibility from employers. You
may be thinking to yourself, “It won’t work
in my association” or, “How would we
even go about allowing that to happen?”
Well, I’m here to tell you, as a fully remote
employee myself, that if done right,
there are definite benefits not only to the
employee, but also to the association.
BY BRUCE E. HAMMOND
HOW WORKING REMOTELY CAME ABOUT
When I was re-hired at Delta Sigma Phi in
2006 as the director of alumni relations
and editor (I had worked here previously
from 2001 to 2004), it was an interesting
time in my life. My future wife was starting her last pre-doctoral internship in the
Detroit suburbs and I needed to live in the
same town. Living in Indianapolis, where
our office is located, wasn’t an option for
me. My boss and I therefore worked out a
deal where I could live and work remotely
after a three-month reintegration period
working in Indy.
During the summer of 2006, I lived in
Indianapolis, worked from the office and
reintegrated myself into the daily operations of the organization. It was a good
exercise in ensuring that I was engaged
with what was happening, comfortable
with my fellow employees and able to do
the job from 300 miles away.
THINGS THAT WE DISCUSSED WHEN
A number of things we discussed as we
were first starting out have been put into
practice and can be instructive for other
associations thinking about enabling
remote workers. Among them:
• Pay range: Would I be compensated at
the level for my position in Indianapolis, or in Detroit?
• How regularly I’d need to be in the
office: Would I be traveling to Indianapolis monthly, every two months,
help me do my job: Would the fraternity
provide a computer, printer and cell
phone; reimburse me for Internet costs;
and provide other technological things
like a VPN connection to get onto our
• What my hours would be: Was I
required to work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or
since I was in a home office, could my
hours be flexible as long as I got the job
We worked all of these situations out
in the initial three-month period while I
was in Indianapolis, coming to our conclusions well in advance of me leaving to
work in Detroit.
WHY IT’S BEEN A SUCCESS
I think the main reason this arrangement
has been a success for our organization,
and the only way it can be successful in
any other association, is because of trust.
Everyone, from the leader of the association to fellow employees to the remote
employee, must trust that this arrangement is in the organization’s best interest,
and that all parts can rely on one another
to make the situation work.
In my experience, that has been easy.
I have regular calls with our executive
director, who is my direct supervisor, and I
also sit in on regular calls with other staff
members to get a sense for what is happening within the association.
I also make the three-hour drive from
my home office to our office in Indianapolis about every other month for a week,
spending time renewing the relationships
with my fellow employees and completing necessary in-person meetings and
The other reason this has been a success is that the organization has shown
me time and again that it is willing to take
personal circumstances into consideration
in order to keep top talent. That makes
me feel good as an employee — knowing
that my organization understands what’s
going on in my life and is willing to support my needs by allowing me to work
THINGS TO CONSIDER
In conclusion, there are five main things
to consider when deciding whether your
association can/should offer the opportunity for telecommuting:
1. Can you trust the person to do the
job on time and effectively?
2. Is your association’s culture conducive to telecommuting?
3. Is the position conducive to telecommuting (i.e., a northeast chapter
relations position might be a good
candidate to live in the northeast, but
a receptionist probably wouldn’t)?
4. Will you allow all employees to work
remotely, or just a select few? (If only
a few, how will this affect the others’
5. Are you as a leader comfortable managing someone who is off-site on a
If you can answer all of these questions
in a way that makes you think telecommuting can work for your association, I’d
encourage you to take the plunge. You
can find some great talent who will be forever grateful to you for trusting them to
Bruce E. Hammond is director of communications/
editor of Delta Sigma Phi. He may be reached at