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COMMUTING BY COMPUTER IS GOOD

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With today's technology and congested highways, commuting via computer is a blue-chip idea that makes considerable sense and saves dollars for workers, businesses and taxpayers.

That being so, a deal between the state of Utah and US WEST Communications that gives US WEST incentive to deploy high-tech telephone services throughout the state merits applause.The arrangement allows US WEST to provide more business-related services, with the state acting as an "anchor tenant." High-speed phone lines will be installed, making it convenient for some state employees to work out of their homes. The contract enables state agencies to pay $65 a month per line for unlimited use, compared with the $149 standard monthly fee.

State employees can request telecommuting through their supervisors. If approved, the state will install a computer, special modem and necessary software in the employee's home. The employing state agency will foot the monthly bill.

It is estimated 750 employees will make the switch to telecommuting immediately. They and others who follow likely will sign an agreement limiting how the computer can be used.

Those who have used telecommuting say concerns that stay-at-home employees abuse their time at the expense of their employers are largely unfounded. To the contrary, workers are often able to get more done and are afforded more flexibility in how they go about their tasks.

Even with telecommuting, there is still regular communication between employees and supervisors, and expectations concerning the quality and quantity of work produced remain constant with what is expected from someone who is physically at the office.

Telecommuting is an intelligent practice that benefits all parties involved. This effort by the state to keep people at home and to keep their vehicles off the highways is commendable. Hopefully others in both the public and private sectors will do the same whenever the practice is feasible.