As many of you know, my work environment is such that when I'm not travelling to customers or conferences, I work from my residence.  This home office setup has been in place for over five years, through four different jobs within IBM Lotus.  While I realize it doesn't work as a work style for everyone, for me it's been a great way to adapt my job to the way that I personally function best.

A few weeks ago, a few of my Lotus colleagues and I were interviewed about telecommuting.  Ironically, the interview took place on the first day that I was sick with my January ailments...illustrating that the concept of a "sick day" is disappearing in the new world of work.  When you don't work in an office to begin with, what does "out of the office" mean?  For me, it meant as many calls as I could muster in between rest periods and attempts to recover.

Still, the benefits of telecommuting are immeasurable, and I find it difficult to ever imagine going back to a traditional office environment.  
Of IBM's 300,000 worldwide employees, 40 percent have no office at the company. IBM equips the home offices of all employees, whether they telecommute part- or full-time, a small price to pay for $100 million savings in on-site office costs.

With employees abandoning their cubes since IBM introduced telecommuting as an option in 1995, telecommuting has become an integral part of IBM's culture. Coworkers rely on IBM technology, including IBM Lotus Sametime Instant Messaging and Web conferencing, to stay connected.

Attracting the best talent is another key benefit. "It's all about finding the right employees. With location not a barrier, it allows us to excel," says Penny Scharfman, program director, Lotus Notes and Domino products, who has managed a staff of remote employees for five years from her office in Cambridge, Mass, where she spends 80 percent of her time. "You really do learn to let go of the need for face-to-face contact," she says.
Link: Workforce Insights: Telecommuting: Why Managing People You Can't See Is Visionary >

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