March 2, 2009

SHOOT YOUR CAR:

Telecommuting: Once a Perk, Now a Necessity: To cut costs, companies such as Capital One are pushing more employees, including even top managers, to work from home (Michelle Conlin, March 9, 2009, Business Week)

Eve Gelb's life was once a blur of hour-and-a-half commutes on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. What memories: The NPR fatigue. The stale minivan air. The deep identification with the characters in Waiting for Godot. But that's all in the past. Gelb, a project manager at a giant HMO, SCAN Health Plan, has given up her Ethan Allen-style office, yanked down the family photos, and moved into her home office. Members of the professional class normally have to beg their managers—or at least delicately negotiate—to allow them to work remotely. But in Gelb's case, it was her boss's idea.

SCAN is one of a growing number of companies encouraging workers to toil from home. Sure, employers have been doing this for years. But as the recession bites and companies look to save money on real estate costs, what was once a cushy perk is now deemed a business necessity. And that, along with a few choice enticements—voila!, a shiny new BlackBerry (RIMM)—is how companies are selling it to employees, whose emotions range from ecstasy to befuddlement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2009 9:02 AM
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