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On the Midnight Train to Georgia? Might Want to Try TelePresence Instead …

April 18, 2011 - 0 Comments

As we’ve written in past posts, telework is becoming more and more common. Not only are we seeing laws passed at the Federal level to encourage and enable telework (e.g. Telework Enhancement Act of 2010), we’re also seeing local governments increasingly embrace the trend.  I recently came across a great story about the City of Roswell, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, implementing telework options in 2008 for two reasons:  as part of a larger sustainability initiative and as part of the BEST program (Building Excellence through Strategic Teams) which focuses on improving the quality of life for city workers and residents.

The article focused on the story of Kimberly Johnson, a City of Roswell employee who started teleworking after the birth of her second child to avoid the 40 mile round trip commute. Thanks to flexible telework options being embraced by the City, Kimberly has been able to fulfill her responsibilities at work while also caring for her newborn. She has also benefitted by saving on gas, emissions and car expenses.

Georgia is also encouraging residents at a state level to embrace teleworking through the Clean Air Campaign Commuter Rewards program. More than 70,000 Georgians are participating in the program and receive monetary incentives, cash rewards and gas cards for their “green” habits. Earlene Ross is one Georgian taking advantage of the program by teleworking four days a week. Similar to Kimberly, she not only saves on gas and public transportation costs, Earlene says she has also saved on her dry cleaning bill and feels in better health by being able to make her meals at home and take an afternoon walk around the neighborhood.

What struck me about both these stories is one commonality these women shared when discussing the challenge of telework:  the lack of interaction with other people. For Kimberly, her role requires a lot of face-to-face interaction so being remote she worries jeopardize her ability to do her job to the fullest extent possible. In Earlene’s case, she misses the office interactions with her co-workers. As someone who has worked remote for years, I could see where that sense of isolation can come from, but I also know the power of telepresence to take that issue or concern off the board completely.  I spend all day teleworking but use TelePresence constantly, so I see people, laugh at their expressions and gain that same sense of camaraderie I’d have if I sat next to them (without the distractions).

The City of Roswell is already ahead of the game with their telework options, all they need now is telepresence! Are you a teleworker that uses telepresence on a daily basis? I’d love to hear what you think…

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