Your company wants to reduce costs but not reduce staff. What can you do? Aetna U.S. Healthcare did something out of the box--it got rid of its building instead of its workers.
Well, the fact that the lease on its Dover , Delaware customer-service facility would be up for review probably entered the decision mix. But, says Aetna spokesperson Walt Cherniak, turning all 167 Dover employees into teleworkers would be nothing new for this company, so it was willing to give it a go.
“Aetna has thousands of work-at-home employees,” Cherniak told delawareonline.com, “so it's not uncommon.” Once the decision to layoff the building was made, Aetna immediately began training in successful telecommuting/offsite phone techniques in order to meet company performance standards.
Most of the Dover employees provide support for large, multistate employee plans, which can be done at home by computer link and telephone.
Cherniak admits that telecommuting is not for all employees. Those who do not wish to telecommute will be given a transfer to another facility. After the other employees are gradually acclimated to telecommuting, some will find they just can't work well in a home-based environment.
Terminating the facility instead of the workers is an experiment; Cherniak confirms that Aetna has no specific companywide plan for a mass layoff of buildings.