Technological advancements such as e-mail and video conferencing have opened up the world of telecommuting to many more Americans, allowing them to work efficiently even when not in the office. "The technology has allowed more people to do more parts of their jobs in more different locations than ever before," said Gil Gordon, a longtime telecommuting consultant.
New tools and employer tech support have made it convenient for employees to stay in touch with their managers and colleagues through calls, instant messaging or video conferencing. Customer service representatives might be able to take calls from home or a coffee shop just as easily as they can from an office. Lawyers can review patent contracts from home using a secure server system [source: Rhodes]. Even doctors are using technology to help them diagnose patients remotely [sources: Terdiman, Flynn].
Because of the nature of some jobs, such as retail cashiers or airline pilots, telecommuting might never be an option for them, but for many positions, technology has made this work style a viable alternative and sometimes even a preferred way of doing business. "Teleworking is best suited to jobs that are information-based, predictable, portable or that demand a high degree of privacy and concentration," said Marcia G. Rhodes, the spokeswoman for WorldatWork, an international human resources company.