Today, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), headquartered in Hughesville, MD, received the Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Award for its Telework program. To better serve the 160,000 electric customers during storms and power outages, in 2006, SMECO launched a telework program for its Contact Center employees who work around-the-clock shifts interfacing with the public on service issues. SMECO’s most dedicated, dependable, and professional employees take part in this program and are supplied with all necessary equipment including laptops, headsets, software and IT support, and internet service.
“We want our employees to do their best and perform at the highest level, and providing flexibility in the workplace helps us achieve those goals,” said Austin J. Slater, SMECO president and CEO. “Whether employees are working in the office with a flexible schedule or teleworking from home, they are productive, engaged, and more satisfied,” he added. “Workplace flexibility provides SMECO with the opportunity to strengthen its workforce.”
In 2013, SMECO also offered a flexible workplace program which allows employees to create a work schedule that best meets their lifestyle needs. Employees can work 40 hours in four ten-hour days, with the fifth day off, or work 80 hours in nine days with the tenth day off. Employees may also adjust start and end times, provided that core hours are worked. As a result of SMECO’s telework program, employees have reduced vehicle miles traveled by 12,289 per year and saved nearly 620 gallons of gasoline.
“SMECO is a great example of how commuter benefit options, especially teleworking, help a company serve its customers during inclement weather or emergency situations, regardless of their location in the region. SMECO’s telework program makes it possible to get all hands on deck to respond to an emergency situation without overcrowding existing workspace,” said Nicholas Ramfos, Director of Commuter Connections. “We are pleased to recognize SMECO for improving the quality of life by offering programs to employees that reduce the cost of commuting, traffic congestion, and carbon emissions.”
For more than 40 years, the Commuter Connections program has been providing and promoting alternatives to drive-alone commuting. Applications are accepted each year for the Employer Recognition Awards from companies in the Washington metropolitan region that offer, promote, or support transit benefits, ridesharing, bicycling, walking, and teleworking. Judging is based on the commuter benefits programs in three categories: Marketing, Incentives and Telework. Additional winners of the 2015 awards are Opower Inc. in Arlington, VA, for Incentives, and WeddingWire of Chevy Chase, MD, for Marketing.
Commuter Connections works closely with Washington-area employers to educate and promote alternatives to drive-alone commuting practices of employees. Such alternatives help reduce gasoline consumption, ease traffic congestion and the stress that long commutes place on employees, and contribute to cleaner air through reduced auto emissions. With free assistance from Commuter Connections, employers can offer a wide array of commuting options, from transit subsidies or pre-tax benefits to telework and ridesharing programs. These benefits provide each participant with a better work-life balance and flexibility, which reduces absenteeism and improves morale and productivity.
For more details on the Employer Recognition Awards Program, visit http://www.commuterconnections.org/employers/employer-awards/
Photo caption: Susan Norris, SMECO Contact Center Manager; Joseph Trentacosta, SMECO Senior Vice President, Information and Customer Services, and CIO; Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO President and CEO; George Clark, Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, Rideshare Coordinator/Employer Outreach Specialist; and Rose Pickeral-Brown, SMECO Vice President, Customer Care.