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Two-Step Commuters Dispel `Robe and Slipper' Myth

Telecommuters and entrepreneurs lend credibility to the alternative work style

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AS more and more people choose to work from home - either telecommuting, working via fax and modem for someone else, or running their own home-based businesses - they often find themselves combatting surprising myths and stereotypes.

Author Anne Lamott, in ``Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,'' (Pantheon, $21) writes of her childhood embarrassment about her father - a writer who worked at home:

``Many years passed before I realized he did this by choice, for a living, and that he was not unemployed or mentally ill. I wanted him to have a regular job where he put on a necktie and went off somewhere with the other fathers....''

Today, because of corporate downsizing and telecommunications advances, working from home is no longer strictly the province of freelance writers and social pioneers. People are working from home in droves.

Link Resources Inc., a New York-based market-research firm, estimates that as many as 24 million full- and part-time, self-employed Americans work out of their homes. They estimate that another 6 million telecommute at least one day a week, and that the number is growing.

But despite the burgeoning legions of home-based workers, working at home continues to carry some of the myths and stereotypes author Lamott detailed in writing about her work-at-home dad.

``Consider that historically the `best and the brightest' went forth into the world - away from home - to hunt and make money in factories and offices. That's just what we have done for 175 years,'' explains Paul Edwards, author with his wife , Sarah, of ``Working from Home'' (Putnam, 1994) and ``Best Home Businesses for the '90s'' (J.P. Tarcher, 1991). ``Who was left: People who didn't fit the organizational mold; oddballs like writers and artists, the infirm, and women to raise the brood. We harbor some pretty primitive attitudes.''

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