Walking the Walk: A Teleworking Pioneer

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Kathy Morgan King has helped businesses incorporate teleworking into their modus operands for more than two decades. The Sisters resident and transportation and energy conservation consultant is a believer in telework – for the right people, in the right kind of job, with the right home environment – as a way to significantly cut down on work-related travel and its related energy use. She knows what works in part because she is a teleworker herself.

Telework – also referred to as telecommuting – simply means working from home or a satellite office one or more days a week using tools such as phone, email, IM and Internet conferencing. More and more Central Oregon businesses are using teleworking today, to reduce overhead expenses and retain valuable employees. Employees who telework save time and money on reduced travel, while lessening their impact on the environment.

“Commuting to work is the biggest chunk of travel in this country,” says King. “Even one day per (work) week of telework is a 20 percent reduction in travel.”

King, while working for the Oregon Department of Energy in the early 1990s, helped create what is now Commute Options, among many other telework programs and training resources. The practice of telework really took off during this era, when it became common practice to use the Internet and email to conduct business communications.

“The technology was there,” says King, “and we saw it as a great way to reduce travel.”

Telework, and the flexible hours it provides, appeals to employees for a number of reasons. But telework does not work for everyone. A teleworker needs to have the right kind of job, the right personality and a home environment conducive to work. “It’s important for both employer and employee to understand these criteria to determine who will and will not succeed as a teleworker,” says King.

“Training and resources for teleworking is one of the free services we provide to Commute Options Partners and their employees,” says Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options. “We can also provide information on Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC) available through the Oregon Department of Energy for eligible employers who buy equipment for teleworkers.”

Working from home – both as an employee of the Oregon Department of Energy and now as a consultant – says King, has helped her to balance her family and work life. “I envisioned an opportunity (in telework) to do a better job. Going to work at home was a huge boost for me, knowing that the quality of my work would benefit from fewer distractions,” she says.

King, like many Central Oregon residents, lives here because she loves the outdoors and recreation. Telework also allows her to consult with companies in other parts of Oregon and throughout the country while enjoying skiing, hiking, fly fishing and river rafting with her husband.

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information about Commute Options, contact Jeff Monson, Executive Director of Commute Options at 541/330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.

Annissa Anderson is a freelance writer and PR consultant in Bend.

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