Work/Life Balance

Telecommuting Option for Professionals

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Working at home has long been seen as an attractive option by a significant number of the nation’s professionals. However, that view isn’t shared by the vast majority of employers. Now, though, some major corporations are starting to see the at-home work option more favorably.

In particular, some are hiring workers who telecommute right from the start of their employment, reports Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) columnist Sue Shellenbarger. “These aren’t the piecework, independent-contractor gigs or commission-only sales jobs that have characterized at-home ‘employment’ in the past. They are full-time corporate jobs with benefits, available without the prerequisite of working for the company for a few years first.”

While such jobs are available right now only to a tiny fraction of the nation’s professionals, Shellenbarger predicts that telecommuting is likely to become more common. Among the reasons why: competition, in some areas, for skilled workers; ever-improving mobile office technology; and the reduction in overhead for a company that doesn’t have to provide offices for employees.

Jeff Diana, a senior vice president for human resources at the Seattle-based insurer Safeco, doesn’t see a downside to this trend. His company finds that hiring telecommuters greatly expands its labor pool and has hired 91 new home-based employees this year. “With technology as good as it is,” he says, “there aren’t many jobs that can’t be done remotely.”

As discussed in an earlier post, some lawyers have found that modern technology also makes it easier to practice primarily in resort areas rather than major metropolitan business centers.

However, telecommuting can present additional legal issues from an employer’s standpoint, points out Business Week.

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