Staying Home to Work

If only you could work without actually having to go to work.  No drive time and no dressing up.  Increasingly, more companies are offering work from home programs.

Susan O'Donnell of Litchfield works as a nurse and case manager for Aetna.  She supervises eighteen people, but logs most of her hours from her spare bedroom at home.
"I usually drive 64-65 miles a day to and from work so by working at home I gain another ten hours of my life back," said O’Donnell.

She saves a lot of money on gas, lunches out and business clothing.  She says it also enhances her ability to do her job.

“It affords me, as a supervisor, privacy because working in a big office with cubicles... There wasn't a lot of privacy if I had to talk to staff or confidential member about a critical issue in their life I'd have to find a conference room," she said.

O’Donnell is one of many Aetna employees who work from home.

In Connecticut, 15% of Aetna’s employees are telecommuters, half do so full-time.   Nationwide, Aetna says more than 26% of company employees from home.

 "We knew that we were gonna continue to grow. We had more employees that were being brought into the organization
And we were running out of space," said  Elease Wright, Aetna Human Resources Senior Vice President.
 Elease Wright says telecommuting allows the company to consolidate offices, retain top-performers who move out of state and stay open during storms.

"Businesses were shut down, roads were shut down. We had over ten-thousand people who were able to telework," Wright said.

Many small organizations, such The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce are also trying telecommuting.

Lobbyist, Louise Dicocco-Beauton, spends two to three days a week in the office and the rest at home. She gave birth to a son just over a year ago and he says the flexibility is ideal.

"With having a child things happen, whether it's an earache, whether it's a childcare situation. I know I've always been the type of worker that I will get the job done whether I have to do it at two am or 5 am," said

 Chamber President, Tony Rescigno, says two of their 20 workers now telecommute and he expects that to rise.
 "We don't always have that ability to always give them what they want in salary or compensation. This is a way to sort of help people in a different respect," said Rescigno.

A 2007 survey from “Telecommute Connecticut” found 158,000 people in this state are working from home at least one day a month- an 86% increase in just six years.

Also, according to "World at Work," by 2006... 28.7  million Americans telecommuted at least one day a month.
 By 2010, he group expects that to be 100 million, as employees seek a better work-life balance and companies boost their bottom lines.

"Employees who have done it, their production tends to be very, very high and their feeling about the company, the engagement level of these employees tends to be high too,” said Wright.

 Both Aetna and the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce set strict expectations for teleworkers and regularly monitor their progress.

"They're held to the same standard as anybody in the office," said Wright.

As technology improves, more companies and workers realize telecommuting may be the perfect ride into the future.

"If people can stay home and work from home, why not?" to help companies launch telecommuting programs... The state offers free consulting through "rideworks" and "telecommute Connecticut," said Rescigno.

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