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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Getting flexible

Telecommuting is an obvious way for companies to make themselves more family-friendly. And some are learning that it is also a way to attract top talent from around the country.

No matter where companies are based, they are often limited to the local talent pool. That is, unless they are able to convince prospective employees to uproot themselves and relocate to be near the office. Companies know that can be a hard sell, especially when they are trying to hire experienced individuals. Often, the most qualified people are a bit older, which often means that they will have to move the whole family. That can be a hard decision for families with kids or when a spouse or partner has a job they like.

Fortunately, some companies are realizing that telecommuting can be a way to attract top talent without forcing them to relocate. Over the weekend, the Boston Globe published an article called, "Aided by laptops, Internet, telework gains in popularity." If more companies can see the benefits, this could be great news for parents who don't want to leave the workforce entirely.

Working from home can also give the gift of time to parents. That allows them to be with their kids, instead of commuting to and from work. It also allows parents to be a more integrated part of their kids lives. "I take the kids to school in the morning and I see them at lunch," said (Lee) Maxey (Pathlore Software's chief learning officer). And when a parent is home, it also can make unexpected child care issues, like snow days or sick days, easier to handle.

The downside is that there is a lot of travel likely to be connected to the telecommuting deal. "Teleworking executives are not tied to their homes," according to the Globe article. " frequently, logging thousands of air miles per year. From Tuesday through Thursday, for example, Maxey visits clients around the country."

It's not perfect, but it's good to see companies being more flexible.

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