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.

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."