Some 30 million Americans work from home at least part of the time, according to In-Stat/MDR. Reward those telecommuting go-getters and enhance their productivity at the same time by solving two common problems for them.
Only about 10 percent of households earning $35,000 to $50,000 have broadband. Even in their homes, access may not even be close to where they need to work without stringing cables all over the house. You can help them put in the hours by springing for a broadband/ 802.11b package.
Wi-Fi-to-broadband deals abound. Microsoft will sell its new hardware bundle for as little as $199 to those who also sign up for its sub- $50-per-month MSN 8 broadband service. Hardware from outfits like Linksys and 3Com cost about the same, but employees have to cobble together a solution with help from a local broadband supplier.
You should pay to equip their desktops or laptops with firewall, antivirus and VPN security. But employees already paying for dial-up would spring for some or all of the monthly service fees and still consider it a perk, says Chris Dustin, COO of Chicago consulting firm HR Solutions Inc.
Worst case, you're out $900 the first year, less than a 2.5 percent raise for a $40,000-per-year employee. Instead of more employment taxes, you'd get capital equipment tax breaks.
Chris Sandlundwrites about business from Cold Spring, New York.