Remote services

Sally Perry, center director for local-area networking at the General Services Administration's Office of the Chief Information Officer, finds that the employees who telecommute are happier and more motivated. "It's a benefit we can give them at no cost," she said.

However, it's important that managers do not micromanage employees, Perry said. "The philosophy in our organization is we shouldn't try to manage the people at home any more than we try to manage the people here," she said. "We have the expectation that you're always working," whether located in the office or at home.

In many cases, telecommuters can work when in-office workers cannot. Paul Butler, groupware and messaging team leader at GSA likes the flexibility of telecommuting. He has the option to work from home should a storm hit or one of his children gets sick. Butler, who lives in Levittsville, Va., said he hasn't been into the office in about three weeks because of travel and, more recently, ankle surgery.

Butler manages GSA's e-mail and groupware systems nationwide and is in contact with internal users who are located all over the country. "A lot of times people don't know if I'm at home or in the office because I'm working with a lot of customers remotely," he said. "My location to the customers we service is irrelevant."

Even his children have gotten used to the fact that he works some days from home, Butler said. "Now they think it's great that I'm here when they come home from school," he said.

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