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Attitude Adjustment

March 07, 1994|CONNIE KOENENN

The machinery for telecommuting is in place. It's the people who need to adjust, says management consultant Jack Nilles, president of the National Telecommuting Advisory Council and author of the book "Making Telecommuting Happen," to be published this month.

"Because of management trepidation--at losing control over their workers--it's important to train people before they start telecommuting," he says, offering these tips:

* Telecommuting must be voluntary on both sides. Management can't order an employee to work from home or a supervisor to let someone work from home. "Both will be incredibly ingenious at sabotaging it."

* Don't be spontaneous. Plan schedules ahead so people aren't away from home computer terminals at crucial moments or at home on those occasions when they are needed in the office.

* The benefits for management must be specific in terms of increased productivity, heightened morale, reduced costs of office space or parking. "You don't do it because it's nifty."

* To keep productivity up, the worker must be well-disciplined and a self-starter.

* If the employee needs access to a lot of expensive equipment, he or she may be better off at a work center than working at home.

* The employee needs to grow up. Telecommuting "can be terrifying for some people who rely on such invisible whips as getting up and putting on a suit, getting to the office on time and other cues."

* The manager needs to grow up. "You don't shout directions and crack the whip. Your job is leadership--to decide where you're going, convey that to your employees . . . and let them do it."

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