FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Technology has its rewards when it comes to bad weather: Businesses around Fairfield County generally allow their employees to work remotely when it's too snowy to commute into their offices, a recent survey found.
The Stamford-based Business Council of Fairfield County sent out a weather-related work polices survey to its members and found that 76 percent of the companies that responded let their employees work from home or alter their schedule during bad snowstorms.
According to the survey, 59 percent of the companies have a telecommuting policy that they implement only when necessary; 14 percent of the companies allow employees to work remotely at any time; and 27 percent of the companies have no telecommuting policy.
The Business Council said it was spurred to do the survey this winter, which has been affected by frequent and severe snowstorms.
The survey can help businesses and human resource professionals "determine their peers’ best practices for maintaining operations and coordinating with employees in the face of adverse conditions," said Lisa Mercurio, director of the Fairfield County Information Exchange for the Business Council of Fairfield County.
When asked to share best practices, most companies said employee safety was paramount when coping with extreme winter weather, Mercurio said in a statement. If people can work from home, that is preferable to having an employee drive or commute to an office when snow is piling up.
"Collectively, these recommendations emphasize both the importance of employees’ freedom to decide where and how to work in cases of extreme weather," she said.
The survey included tips from the companies that took part.
“Commuting to work during bad weather is a source of stress. Always treat employees like adults and allow them to decide for themselves what to do on these days (i.e. drive in or work from home),” one company responded.
Another business said its offices are always open due to the nature of the business. "But we always leave the decision to drive in inclement weather up to the individual employee as the roads in their area may not be safe to travel," the company said. "To the extent they can do work from home, we encourage that but we don't require it because not everyone can work from home."
Some companies even offer perks for any employee who braves the weather to be in the office by giving an extra day off, offering free lunch or paying for extra time.
However, the survey found that most companies do not specially recognize their employees for venturing into the bad weather to make it to the office.