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Telecommuting: No. 1 workplace trend

Driven by employee demands for more flexible scheduling, telecommuting will be the predominant workplace trend in 2000.

That's according to a new survey of human-resources executives by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an international outplacement firm. In the survey, 43 percent of respondents say an increasingly mobile telecommuting work force is the biggest workplace trend on the horizon.

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For employees, telecommuting eliminates the stress, time, and cost of commuting. They typically enjoy more autonomy in their workday and more flexibility in hours and dress.

For employers, it can be cheaper to pay for the technology needed at home than to rent office space. They also say they benefit from an increase in efficiency (fewer social interruptions) and productivity (there's still some debate on that point).

But there are some downsides to telecommuting:

*Some who have tried to balance child supervision with working at home find that children can disrupt concentration more than office interruptions.

*There are legal and compensation issues regarding overtime, protection of equipment as a company asset, etc.

*Some complain about isolation. They say they miss out on social interaction at work, and the chance to gain energy from others and jointly solve problems.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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