To bring some clarity to Telecommuting 2001, American Way talked to some successful, longtime telecommuters and to managers who've reaped the promised rewards of telework: increased productivity, increased employee satisfaction, and lowered turnover. (In one AT&T survey of virtual employees, the majority reported not only greater efficiency, but also increased happiness, energy, job satis- faction, calmness, self-confidence, focus on work, and involvement in work.) Their stories, their helpful hints, and their warnings could help you and your company find telecommuting nirvana.

JOSEPH ROITZ:
The Remote Manager

Like many telecommuters, Roitz began his home office career because his employer didn't want to lose him. "My wife got a great job in Dallas," says Roitz. "So I went to my boss in Atlanta and told him I needed to become virtual."

Roitz had the good fortune to work for AT&T, which already had a sizable workforce of telecommuters and which increasingly has a business interest in helping other companies set up similar programs. Roitz is the company's Telework Program Director. He telecommutes by analyzing trends in telecommuting, which makes him pretty much a virtuoso of virtual. In fact, after several years in Dallas, Roitz recently picked up his home office a second time and followed his wife to yet another career opportunity, this time in Little Rock.

"Telework had actually been around for a long time," he points out. "It's getting a lot of media attention now, but salespeople have always worked remotely. In large companies, people work in different buildings or different cities, and they communicate by conference call - they just don't call it telework."