Business Affairs Celebrates SACUBO Award on Telecommuting
Business Affairs was recognized by the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO) as part of the organization’s Best Practices Program. Sheri Hardison, associate vice president of Financial Affairs, Tammy Anthony, assistant vice president of Budget and Financial Planning, and Carlos Gonzales, director of Business Information Services, submitted a proposal that won first prize in SACUBO’s 2020 Best Practices Award. The proposal presentation, “Can Higher Education Work from Home? UTSA’s Path to Large-Scale Business Office Telecommuting,” focused on Business Affairs’ 2018 move to telecommuting.
Hardison, Anthony and Gonzales submitted this presentation for consideration and were invited to present at SACUBO’s 2020 Annual Meeting, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early research for the telecommuting deployment resulted in few resources regarding large-scale telecommuting practices for higher education institutions. This led Hardison, Anthony and Gonzales to create a unique plan for their offices.
“The project was a team effort, and involved coordination with other departments, including University Technology Solutions, Facilities and Campus Services,” said Hardison. “The effort included significant administrative work and required coordinated leadership from directors and clear communication with staff to alleviate concerns and ensure telecommuting worked for their offices.”
Coordination involved creating resources for telecommuters, including agreement packages, training and employee resources. Employees whose positions benefitted from a rotating office presence required access to software and telephones at home, part-time campus parking options and standards for those working with sensitive data. Between August 2018 and January 2019, multiple offices moved to full-time telecommuting. This included Business Information Services, Budget & Financial Planning, Accounting, Payroll, Disbursements & Travel Services, Procard/Travel Card Administration, Financial Affairs, Human Resources and members of the Financial Services office.
Telecommuting practices provide multiple benefits for the university and employees. “Our experience is that this is an option that more schools or departments should consider where possible, because you can still provide the same level of service with modifications, and yet you’re releasing space on campus. Space is a huge commodity on any college campus. Additionally, your staff is going to be happier because they’re going to have more personal time and fewer commuting costs,” said Hardison.
The groundwork that Hardison, Anthony, Gonzales and University Technology Solutions laid with their original plan supported and streamlined the university’s quick move to wide-scale telecommuting in March 2020. Employees who had previously transitioned to telecommuting were able to offer support and advice to first-time telecommuters. The presentation serves as an important guide for higher education institutions exploring telecommuting.