A couple of years ago, Colin Fly slipped on a Mayo Clinic polo shirt before heading out to a neighborhood block party. "I love to wear my Mayo gear," says Fly, a manager in Development Communications. It's a guaranteed conversation starter, a way to connect with people he meets. "I always have people come up and tell me their Mayo Clinic story," he says. That afternoon, one of those stories came from Alicia Bartz, who told Fly that she, too, worked for Mayo.
That might not be a remarkable discovery in a Rochester neighborhood. But Fly and Bartz were in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin — some 275 miles away from Mayo's Rochester campus. Both telework from their homes, which, it turns out, are just a block apart. Not long ago they discovered, through an internal social networking group, that a third Mayo colleague, Amy White, also lives in the neighborhood. "Within three blocks, there are three Mayo people working in totally different areas in very different jobs," Bartz, a senior digital content strategist for Administrative Services — Practice, says. "It's a great example of the various ways that teleworkers contribute to Mayo's culture and mission."
Fly, Bartz and White, a genetic counselor, are among the nearly 300 Mayo Clinic staff who telework from Wisconsin. And they're hardly alone. Nationwide, around 3,100 Mayo staff telework at least part time from nearly every state in the union. (For the curious, Vermont and Wyoming are the holdouts.) Close to 140 work units employ at least one teleworker.
"Telework is not something that is going away," Fly says. "It's not for everyone or for every situation. It has to fit a business need. But it is a way for employers to attract and retain talent."
Fly fits squarely in the "retain" category. He'd worked at Mayo for several years when his wife was offered a job near her hometown. The couple had just adopted their son and were eager to be closer to family. "I love Mayo, but I had a family need to be in Wisconsin," Fly says. "I'm extremely grateful for forward-thinking bosses who supported telework."
White has been a teleworker since Day One. "Mayo's biochemical genetics lab was looking for people with experience in biochemical genetics," she tells us. While she had the requisite background and was intrigued by the available position, she didn't want to uproot her family and move to Minnesota. So she declined the offer to interview. A few months later, White noticed that a telework position was posted in the same laboratory. Mayo had been unable to find someone with the qualifications they were looking for who would move to Rochester, so they decided to change the position. Now, it seemed much more appealing to White. And she seems to have been on the leading edge of a trend. "When I was hired, Mayo had 12 genetic counselors and two of us teleworked," White says. "Now, we have 35 genetic counselors and 22 work remotely."
Former colleagues were concerned about White's ability to work alone. "I'm an extrovert, and my colleagues were asking me, 'Amy, how are you going to do this?!'" she says. "But with all of the resources Mayo provides, like Skype and email, I feel very connected." Fly and Bartz also report feeling connected to their teams. In fact, Bartz says people are often surprised to learn that she isn't working on campus. "People will suggest we meet over coffee, and I explain that I'm in Wisconsin," she says.
But now, Bartz has colleagues that she can — and does — meet for coffee. Once a month, she, Fly and White rendezvous at a neighborhood coffee shop for some old-school face time. "It's interesting to hear what's going on in different areas at Mayo," White says. "I go home inspired."
Inspire us with your comments below before you use the handy tools above to to share this story with others.