Clean Air Campaign hopes telecommuters recognized

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Linda Stone got back 21/2 hours of her life a day when she started telecommuting.

The Lawrenceville resident was spending more than an hour in her car for a 20-mile commute to her workplace in Alpharetta just to turn back around at the end of the day and spend another hour driving home.

A business project program manager for Aetna, Stone kicked her commute to the curb six years ago and hasn't looked back since.

Telecommuter Appreciation Week, celebrated this year from Feb. 28 through March 6, salutes former commuters like Stone. Since 1993, teleworkers have had a week to call their own, courtesy of the American Telecommuting Association.

For Stone, telecommuting was practical.

"Many of the jobs that we do (with Aetna) don't have to be done in an office location," Stone said. "My boss is in Tampa and a lot of the folks that I work with every day are in Connecticut, Texas and Ohio. The people that I work with every day who are my co-workers, we're on conference calls, we're e-mailing each other, we have instant message we can use to communicate. There's just no reason for all of us to go to separate offices in different parts of the country to do that."

For Stone, telecommuting not only made sense from that standpoint, it has allowed her to save time and money.

"I can spend part of that time actually working and being productive and the rest of it, I'm right here at my home when my kid gets home from school," she said. "It's so much more convenient."

According to The Clean Air Campaign, an organization that encourages Georgians to take action to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion, teleworking is catching on throughout the metro Atlanta region. The campaign worked with 62 employers to implement telework projects in 2009.

"Teleworker Appreciation Week is something that makes a lot of sense," said Brian Carr, communications director for The Clean Air Campaign. "We really hope employers will get on board with recognizing employees who telework."