Telecommuting After Quake

* Re "Telecommuting Boomlet Has Few Follow-Up Calls," May 16:

Telecommuting will work when the traditional hierarchical organizational structure finally goes away. As long as there are "managers" who feel it necessary to practice MBWA (management by walking around), the trust on which telecommuting depends just won't exist.

The hardware is the easiest obstacle to overcome. Personal computers, FAX modems and (for those who must use paper) single-box laser-printer/scanner/copier units get cheaper by the minute and will one day be found in every literate household.

The telecommuting concept must be able to pass the acid test; it must be found acceptable to both the telecommuter (in terms of its convenience and utility) and the employer (in terms of its productivity and reliability). Telecommuting centers? Definitely half-acid!



* The 40 workstations at the county's expanded Antelope Valley Telebusiness Center are 100% occupied, with companies committed to stay at least six months. The facts of the matter belie the story's claim that "leasing is sluggish," post-quake telecommuting centers are "riddled with vacancies" and telecommuting is merely a fad.

Demand for work space for telecommuting in the Antelope Valley soared following the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake, due to the inaccessible freeways and other commuting problems. My office and the county-sponsored Antelope Valley Telebusiness Center were deluged with inquiries from individuals and companies seeking emergency work space for stranded employees.

Telecommuting has proven beneficial to both industry and the environment. It increases productivity and efficiency, leading to reduced business costs. It cuts pollution and congestion by freeing drivers from long commutes. The users of the Antelope Valley Telebusiness Center alone drive over 24,600 miles less a week, eliminating nearly 700 tons of smog-forming pollutants from our air.

All in all, telecommuting is a success story in a region desperately in need of success stories.


Supervisor, Fifth District

Los Angeles County

* One reason telecommuting does not work well is that the intended workhorse--the telephone lines--are still painfully slow in transferring bitstreams of data.

Using a 14,400-baud modem, trying to communicate remotely with an office computer, is about 10 times slower than sitting at a hard-wired terminal.

When will high-grade data lines be available and affordable to the prospective telecommuter?



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