Bite Your Tongue!

Home Work

You got questions? We got answers.

Telecommuting is a dream for many employees. But it's a potential nightmare for some businesses. "Different employers have different needs," says Lewis Gardner, a labor law attorney at Greenberg Traurig in Tysons Corner, Virginia. "At smaller establishments, the guidelines may be looser and more informal than large businesses."

But whether you like it or not, statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that 17 million Americans telecommute to work. So what should you know as an employer?

One thing employers should definitely do is pay for dedicated phone lines (including high-speed Internet access lines), for at-home workers, says Bobby Patrick, vice president of strategy and product development for Digex Inc., a Web site developer in Beltsville, Maryland.

But work-at-home privileges should probably be reserved for only a certain group of employees, according to a recent report, How to Escape the 9 to 5 Rat Race, by the American Tele-commuters Association (ATA). Jobs that call for writing, research and analysis are the top candidates for telecommuting, along with computer programming and budgeting. For a copy of the report, contact the ATA at (312) 494-2697.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bite Your Tongue!.

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