NEW YORK-It seems like many businesses are allowing their employees to work from home at least part of the time. Several of my employees have asked about this. What are some pros and cons of the telecommuting model, and are there some traps to avoid?

That’s the question Bob Dahms, a business counselor with the Bellingham chapter of SCORE, set out to answer in a recent column in the Bellingham Herald.  I’ve pulled out a couple of especially cogent points as they relate to virtual office users.

“Telecommuting is appropriate for information or knowledge workers or others who can produce a work-product off site. They can then either bring or transmit it to the physical workplace, usually in electronic form,” Dahms writes. “This concept started pretty low-tech with the advent of small fax machines in the 1990s. But look at what's changed recently. Along came email; high speed internet; laptops; YouTube; the social media explosion; smartphones; texting and IM-ing; video conferencing. And now you can buy an eight-gigabyte USB thumb drive, which didn't even exist just a few years ago, for around $10.”

Dahms then listed a slew of benefits for telecommuting from the employer’s standpoint. These are the same sorts of benefits I’ve been trumpeting about virtual offices for years now.

    • Virtual offices reduce commute costs and wear and tear on vehicles.


    • Virtual offices eliminate commute time completely.


    • Virtual offices offer a more flexible schedule.


    • Virtual offices let you work in more casual attire.


    • Virtual offices improve workforce satisfaction and retention.

I could go on and on—and I have in other articles. The bottom line: telecommuting from a virtual office offers a growing laundry list of benefits for employers, employees and the environment. With Telework Week just behind us, the latter is especially apparent. About 65,000 people pledged to telecommute last week. The Telework Exchange figures they saved a collective $5.1 million and 6.1 million pounds of pollution.