Telecommuters look smart as gas prices go up

Gloria Jahnke wants to have it both ways. And who doesn't? Most days, she wants to rub elbows with her stimulating colleagues at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.

"I like that interaction," said Jahnke, 60, a health scientist in toxicology. "You run into people during the day. You learn things you wouldn't pick up otherwise."

But sometimes -- no disrespect to those brainy NIEHS types -- Jahnke just wants to shut out all distractions. She needs to sit at her computer and stay focused on her deadline.

On those days, she can get more work done at her house in Orange County. After all, she has a phone at home, a laptop and an Internet connection.

So why waste time and gas on a 45-minute drive to Research Triangle Park? This summer, Jahnke joined the ranks of a modest movement to let workers stay home a few days a month -- and phone it in.

Telecommuting isn't new, but it seems to be growing. As $4 gas makes driving more expensive, some bosses are getting up the courage to let workers out of their sight every now and then.

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