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Podcast: How SoCal Gas Started Flex

Podcast: How SoCal Gas Started Flex

In this thought-leader podcast, Kyra Cavanaugh talks with Erika Wendt, project manager at SoCal Gas.  Wendt shares the steps her company took to implement a flexible work program, from top leadership buy-in down to grassroots cultural change.

This podcast was recorded in September 2011.

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From the podcast:

Top manager concerns:

1) Performance Management. How will I know the work is getting done?

2)  Safety.  What about ergonomics?  How will I know employees are being safe?  Safety is a top priority at SoCal Gas, so that was still top of mind for managers, even if employees were staying at home.

3) Business Etiquette.  Managers wanted policies on how people should behave on conference calls and when using meeting rooms.  (HR provided a video series instead.)

Biggest surprise:

“Because people have worked her for so long, this has become their family.  We actually had people crying in our focus groups.”  This notion that the community of people that they come to work with everyday might not be here all the time…that was a challenge.

What would you do differently?

Streamline the telework request process.  It’s a pretty manual process with a lot of back and forth of proposals, agreements, signatures.

What advice do you have for others?

Over communicate.  No matter how much you think you’ve communicated the program, it isn’t enough.  Think beyond email.  Get leadership talking about it.  Get employees talking about it.

Which comes first, policy or practice?

SoCal Gas was careful to solicit employee feedback as part of the program launch.  Instead of introducing policies first and then going back to work on culture, Wendt decided to work on culture and policy simultaneously.

That meant she had to be quick to respond to employee and manager concerns, but it almost meant the flex project could be more nimble – introducing and tweaking program elements before anything was locked in “policy stone.”


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