Jefferson PUD approves routine telecommuting policy

Added efficiency discovered during Stay-Home order

PORT TOWNSEND — Employees are more efficient working from home than in the office, Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners acknowledged as they unanimously approved a telecommuting policy that will be in effect after the COVID-19 precautions are no longer needed.

During the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” mandate, which expired Monday, PUD employees able to work from home were asked to do so.

An unintended result was increased efficiency and workflow, the staff reported.

“We need to let people work from home,” said General Manager Kevin Streett during the Tuesday meeting.

“In some instances, we have been more productive and our processes have been improved with them working from home. So there are not only advantages to the employee, there’s advantages to the PUD.”

Through this new policy, PUD employees who want to do their jobs from home and are otherwise eligible to do so can apply for telecommuting.

The general manager will determine eligibility, with approval from the employee’s manager or director, if applicable.

“Before this coronavirus, I don’t think I would have supported a work-at-home policy because it is kind of foreign to the utility industry,” Streett said. “But it has really worked out well here.”

Employees also would meet with the human resources manager for the PUD to determine if the plans set forth with their managers are feasible. That includes identifying the job responsibilities, equipment needs and any other variables.

The employee must demonstrate proficiency in the prescribed programs, show they can perform their duties with little oversight and can communicate effectively, and be in the office if needed, the policy said.

Positions comprised primarily of computer and phone-based tasks, without the need for intensive oversight and training or use of specialized equipment, programs or networks are examples that could be eligible for telecommuting.

Telecommuting employees will be continuously evaluated and will go through the same annual employee performance review process, the policy said.

The PUD has budgeted about $70,000 to cover the costs of equipment that may be needed by employees who choose to work from home, depending on what kind of arrangement has been set up between the employee and their manager.

If any equipment provided by the company and taken home by the employee is damaged, the employee must have it replaced but will be reimbursed.

Some of the equipment employees can take home include printers, keyboards, computer mouse devices, headsets and, if necessary, computers.

Keyboards, computer mouse, and headsets come with $30 reimbursements while printers would be $250. Computers would not be eligible for reimbursement, according to Melanie Patterson, human resources manager.

“I just wanted to compliment Kevin and Melanie for coming up with some processes to keep people working yet safe during this time,” PUD Commissioner Jeff Randall said.

“It sounds like you have been tracking productivity of the staff as a whole in terms of processing tasks and getting things done, and you’re actually seeing improvements over when everybody was in the office,” he continued.

“I think we should always be looking for ways to be more productive,” Randall said.


Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].

More in News

Olympic National Forest holiday tree permits are available

Olympic National Forest holiday tree permits are available… Continue reading

Police review video, teen recovers after shooting at mall

Tacoma police reviewed video footage from inside the Tacoma Mall… Continue reading

FILE - In this March 9, 2021, file photo, House members meet in the Statehouse, in Boise, Idaho. An Idaho law banning nearly all abortions would take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a nationwide right to abortion. The court with a 6-3 conservative majority on Wednesday, Dec. 1 starts hearing arguments over a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, File)
Most Idaho abortions banned if Roe v. Wade is overturned

An Idaho law banning nearly all abortions would take… Continue reading

Omicron variant not found in Washington state as of Tuesday

Health officer: Precautions work against newest version of COVID-19

A cabin was seen floating down the Quillayute River and a snapshot taken by Richwine Road resident Lisa Kemmerer. (Photo courtesy Lisa Kemmerer)
One cabin saved after another sent into river by floods

Port Angeles couple rescue dwelling on the Quillayute

Laptop fund formed to help students

Laptops will be offered to students who are pursuing… Continue reading

Medical assisting program at Peninsula College earns accreditation

The medical assisting program at Peninsula College has earned… Continue reading

Free legal aid clinic to address housing issues

The Clallam-Jefferson County Pro Bono Lawyers will conduct a… Continue reading

Most Read