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 kpark@peninsuladailynews.

More in News

Ridge ski season opens Saturday

Finally, enough snow falls for winter sports

A gate and concrete barricades block the north end of Towne Road as it reaches the new Dungeness River levee on Tuesday northwest of Sequim. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Residents provide Towne Road feedback

More than 30 express opinions on project

Point Hudson Marina slated to be open today

Port of Port Townsend plans grand opening ceremony on April 24

Firefighters extinguished a fire in an RV near Olympic Medical Center on Wednesday in Port Angeles. No one was injured. (Port Angeles Fire Department)
No one injured in RV fire

No one was injured following an RV fire at… Continue reading

tsr
Mobile Healing Clinic to start in Clallam Bay on Monday

RV offers similar MAT services as Sequim facility

Finalists for the 2023 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award include, front row, from left, Carol Labbe and Pauline Olsen. Not pictured is the award recipient, Renne Emiko Brock, who was unable to attend the chamber’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday. Pictured with Labbe and Olsen are, back row, from left, chamber President Eran Kennedy, chamber Executive Director Beth Pratt and Lorie Fazio, Citizen of the Year committee chair. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Art advocate Brock named Sequim Citizen of Year

Labbe, Olsen finalists for town’s top civic award

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams, 4 1/2, and Millie, 2, all from Port Townsend, down a snow hill at Port Townsend High School on Tuesday. An overnight storm passed through but not before depositing about 3 inches of soft powder, which melted rapidly as the day warmed. The blast of snowfall was largely confined to the area around Port Townsend and Port Hadlock overnight into Tuesday morning on the North Olympic Peninsula. Another weather system was coming in on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to drop rain in the lowlands and snow in the mountains on Wednesday and early Thursday, according to meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch with the National Weather Service in Seattle. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Downhill sledding

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams,… Continue reading

waddell
Clallam PUD seeks replacement for Waddell

Applicants for the Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner seat… Continue reading

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’