Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday just issued a short article discussing his interest in using telecommuting for workers at his department.
This can be a good idea to keep good people on staff who otherwise might leave. It certainly can reduce commuting costs for participants.
Of course, there needs to be good connectivity, both on line and through telephone, with the telecommuters, but that shouldn’t pose a huge problem. And, there are issues such as staff isolation and ways to assure good work output that need to be worked out (home environments do provide distractions), but these are not insurmountable obstacles.
Truth is, I’ve been a telecommuter at the Bluegrass Institute from day one back in 2003. I have found some challenges to this new wave of working arrangements, to be sure, but I would not be interested in commuting from Northern Kentucky to either Lexington or Frankfort, where BIPPS has office locations. Without telecommuting, BIPPS might not be able to afford to have an education analyst on staff.
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) might also benefit from getting/keeping key expertise on staff in the same way.
Furthermore, I’ll bet there are some outstanding teachers who now have children and quit working to stay home. They could provide all sorts of great expertise and help to Frankfort and school staff around the state if telecommuting became available.
As far as the public’s access to both KDE people and their data, most of the times when I call staff members at the department for information, they wind up looking in the department’s on line resources to find it. With proper access, they could do the same from home.
So long as the ‘extranet’ security is properly set up, whether I get information and supporting expertise from someone physically present at 500 Mero Street (the KDE’s home building) or from someone working from home, I see no difference.
On the other hand, I can see real benefits for everyone if KDE adopts this growing approach to more flexible working arrangements.
So, why not give it a try.