Tips for setting up telecommuters

* Be sure to emphasize voice communications as much as data. Most employers do a good job of getting workers e-mail and Internet access, but some don't think about setting up workers with voice mail at home or how they will receive calls that go to the office first.

* Beware the false economies of less expensive equipment and services. For example, relying on dial-up access to e-mail and the Internet may cost less than broadband service, but slow or unreliable connections can bite into worker productivity in the long run.

* Consider leasing equipment for teleworkers. It enables you to outfit them with the latest gear, while spreading out the cost over time and avoiding the big capital outlay in the beginning.

* Read the fine print carefully in broadband network service contracts, especially the way they differentiate between their residential and generally more expensive business-class services. For example, some providers will not allow you to secure a residential-class line with a virtual private network. Some also will immediately terminate service for nonpayment. Obviously, that can be a major disruption for a work-at-home program and a time-consuming headache for the IT staff to straighten out.

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