Ark. IT employees to telework

Arkansas' information technology department recently joined a handful of

other state IT offices that allow people to work from their homes, a move

that managers 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 one to five days a week.

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

state needed a way to entice new recruits as well as a way to hold on to

its current technology brainpower.

"If [employees] 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 jump-start 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 various state officials, 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 — although officials are 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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