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Tech's Appeal

As tempting as technology is, your employees can only handle so much of it.

This story appears in the November 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The 20 employees at San Francisco's 4charity Inc. are on their computers eight hours or more a day, handling charitable-giving transactions online for nonprofits and corporate donors. "We're a totally virtual office," says Tracey Pettengill, 31, CEO of the 3-year-old company, whose sales will reach $1 million this year. "No one could come in to the office, and we'd be just as efficient."

But efficiency can lead to isolation and frustration. Pettengill finds herself telling her employees to solve problems face to face instead of hiding behind e-mail and instant messaging. Boredom from technology use has reared its ugly head, too: An employee who handles online sales was burning out last spring and asked for more variety and excitement in her job. "There's absolutely zero human interaction," Pettengill says. "It's a rote process over and over again." To solve the problem, Pettengill gave the employee some outbound sales calls and other projects other than filling out the same online form all day. It's helped the employee stay motivated.

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