Q: Does telecommuting have to be a full-time program for everyone?

A: No. Few telecommuters work entirely from home, and those who do may perform only one task, such as data entry or word processing. Most often, telecommuters spend one to three days a week in their home offices.

Q: How will I know that my employees are working?

A: With the right training and management, telecommuting is a win-win situation for employers and employees alike. Employees are unlikely to abuse the program with careful planning and management. The telecommuting process often acts as a management tool because managers receive training to clarify work assignments and check their employees' progress.

Q: How will I reach my employees when I need them? What if a crisis comes up?

A: Managers can set the hours that employees are available by phone or require telecommuters to call in at specified times. Since supervisors and telecommuters learn to manage their time more effectively and prioritize their tasks, when a crisis happens, managers know where employees are and can usually reach them by phone. Many managers say the planning that goes with telecommuting eliminates some of those crises entirely.

Q: How do I guarantee the security of confidential company materials?

A: Your materials might be more secure in a home office than they are on-site. Few offices are truly secure; items are stolen, people can walk out with material in their briefcases, and visitors can read confidential documents lying on desks.

By using logs for documents taken out of the office and locked files in the home office; practices many firms already require for work taken home; materials may be safer with the telecommuter.

Q: Does telecommuting require employees to have a computer at home?

A: While the trend is toward using computers for tasks and communication among work groups, many telecommuters do not use computers on-site or at home. Others save the work that requires a computer for their days in the office. For many tasks, a pencil, pad and phone are all that's required.

Q: Is the cost of implementing a telecommuting project justified by its benefits?

A: Often yes. The benefits of a telecommuting program can be seen quickly. For example, one telecommuting project broke even on costs versus benefits in less than two years, including all direct and indirect costs of planning, implementing and conducting a detailed evaluation. Benefit-to-cost ratios for this program are projected to reach over twenty-to-one as telecommuting continues.