A Homegrown Industry

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Kimberly Engel's office is five seconds from her kitchen, within arms reach of her children, and best of all — it's miles from the choking smog, incessant noise and terrible tedium of traffic gridlock.

As CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, Engel is one of an estimated 20 million Americans finding freedom and flexibility in "telework" — work away from the traditional office.

"It has really been overwhelmingly wonderful to be able to be at home with the kids and put them first, and yet still have personal and professional development and growth," Engel says.

This sort of work is not for everyone. Workers have to be disciplined and motivated and not miss the office social scene. But telework can make for happier, more productive employees — and save companies big bucks.

"Measuring three factors — reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and the very cost of recruiting and retaining a worker — you can save $10,000 per-year, per-teleworker if they only work from home one day a week 50 weeks a year," says Gail Martin of the International Telework Association.

The work also has the benefit of reducing a growing environmental problem — traffic congestion. Workers that stay home, after all, don't have to pile onto the interstates at rush hour anymore.

Even Uncle Sam is in on the trend. Wendell Joice has worked from the comfort of his own home for almost a decade. His job? Promoting telework among government forces. David Bibb is Joice's boss, though they rarely see one another.

"We are as much in competition for good, top-level employees as any American corporation, and most corporations are offering telework as an option," says Bibb, of the government's General Services Administration.

Working at home has been an enlightening experience, Joice says.

"I discovered that I could be more motivated than I thought I could be. Naturally I was concerned about what would happen when I was working here at home, but I find if anything I need to learn how to cut it off," Joice says.

For moms like Kimberly Engel, the hardest part is when work interrupts family time, but more and more workers are finding this balancing act worth the effort.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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