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CHAPTER 4 WORKFORCE FOCUS

CASE STUDY

THE HOPEFUL TELECOMMUTER

Jennifer Lim was pregnant, and she was happy about it. She and her husband Jim, had been
planning to start a family for some time. However, she was concerned about her job as a Cebu
Zone supply chain manager for health and beauty products for Big Stores. The Big Stores was a
large, multimillion pesos food store chain that had stores in 47 locations. It was a conventionally
organized retailer divided into three geographic regions (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao) with 12
zones (4 per region).

Zone supply chain manager, such as Jennifer, were the link between the store managers and their
product-line suppliers. Jennifer has been ranked number one in the customer and in supplier
satisfaction surveys for health and beauty product lines for the last two years. She knew that she
was eligible for six months of maternity leave under the law, and that the company would have to
provide a job for her upon her return. What she didn’t like was the thought that they did not have
to, and probably would not, give her the same job that she was now holding so well.

Jennifer had talked to Jim, at length, about what to do. They agreed that she should approach her
regional manager, Sarah Galang, the Zone VP, about the possibility of “telecomunicating” to her
job after the baby came. Jennifer thought that she could do 85 - 90 percent of the job at home on
her own schedule. A large part of her job consisted of verbal and fax contacts with store managers
and suppliers, as well as extensive use of a computer for manipulating databases, preparing
spreadsheet reports, and sending and responding to e-mail. The other 10 - 15 percent of the time,
when she had to be in the office for face-to-face meetings or had to take brief trips, her parents
and Jim could keep the baby and cover for her at home.

When Jeniifer approach Sarah, she was interested, but would not commit herself to supporting
Jennifer’s request. She said the the company had never done that before, and it might pose a
number of difficulties. She did not say that she would take her request forward to the two VP’s
who could approve or disapprove it. Both senior managers would have to approve Jennifer’s
request, however, Sarah asked Jennifer to prepare some “talking points” concerning the benefits
versus the limitations of the arrangement that she could present to the vice president of human
resources, and the senior vice president of operations, Sarah’s manager. Sarah also asked Jennifer
to prepare a cost estimate, in consultation with the Zone information systems manager.

The following was what Jennifer prepared for the estimated costs:

Laptop computer and docking station P13,500.00


Setup DSL dedicated phone line 1,250.00
Fax machine 1,250.00
Computer desk and chair 5,240.00
Telephone line charges (6 months) 1,240.00
Total Expenses P22,480.00
Discussion Questions

1. You are Jennifer. What “talking points” would you prepare to support your case? Include both
the strengths and limintations of telecommuting. Keep in mind the needs of your “customers,” the
human resources VP, as well as Sarah, and the VP of operations.

2. What issues do you think that the VP of human resources might raise? What issue do you think
the senior VP of operations might raise?

3. How does your answer demonstrate the principles of empowerment? How might it fit the
components of the current USC SBE Online Learning Program?