Arkansas IT employees to telecommute

Arkansas' information technology employees may be the first in the country

allowed to work from their homes, a move their bosses hope will help with

recruitment.

The state's Department of Information Services recently began a pilot

telecommuting program for its staff. About 28 of the department's 300 workers

will be working from home from one to five days a week.

Penny Rubow, the department's telecommuting project manager, says the

state needed a way to entice new recruits, as well as a way to hold onto

its current technology brainpower. They thought the ability to telecommute

would make a difference.

"If they can stay at home and work, it's a big plus for them," Rubow

said. "Hey, I have a 45-minute drive to work, and if I didn't have to drive

in every day, it would be wonderful."

Another hope is that the program will rub off onto other state departments.

And if that happens, Rubow said, it may be possible to jumpstart the economy

in the more remote parts of the state.

The department began researching telecommuting about a year and a half

ago. Much of that time was spent creating a policy and getting it approved

by the various state powers that be, including the governor.

Employees in the pilot will work on programming, managing contracts,

planning and design and research, Rubow said. Participants have the option

of using a government computer, and the state will pay for the installation

of a second phone line if needed.

The pilot runs to Dec. 31, at which point the department will assess

the results — though they're fairly certain they're on the right track.

"We believe it will work for us," Rubow said. "We're sure of it."

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