Arkansas State IT Employees to Telecommute

WASHINGTON (04/26/2000) - Arkansas' information technology employees may be the first in the country allowed to work from their homes, a move their bosses hope will help with recruitment.

The state's Department of Information Services recently began a pilot telecommuting program for its staff. About 28 of the department's 300 workers will be working from home from one to five days a week.

Penny Rubow, the department's telecommuting project manager, says the state needed a way to entice new recruits, as well as a way to hold onto its current technology brainpower. They thought the ability to telecommute would make a difference.

"If they can stay at home and work, it's a big plus for them," Rubow said.

"Hey, I have a 45-minute drive to work, and if I didn't have to drive in every day, it would be wonderful."

Another hope is that the program will rub off onto other state departments. And if that happens, Rubow said, it may be possible to jumpstart the economy in the more remote parts of the state.

The department began researching telecommuting about a year and a half ago.

Much of that time was spent creating a policy and getting it approved by the various state powers that be, including the governor.

Employees in the pilot will work on programming, managing contracts, planning and design and research, Rubow said. Participants have the option of using a government computer, and the state will pay for the installation of a second phone line if needed.

The pilot runs to Dec. 31, at which point the department will assess the results - though they're fairly certain they're on the right track.

"We believe it will work for us," Rubow said. "We're sure of it."

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