“You can now earn a New York salary and live in a much less expensive place,” says Chris Miller, executive director of the Creative Coast Initiative, a non-profit organization that promotes the advantages of Savannah, Georgia, which attracts many telecommuters with Atlanta-based companies.
Population-losing rural areas are using telecommuting to lure residents and businesses:
In Minnesota, a project spearheaded by the Midwest Institute for Telecommuting Education, with the U.S. Department of Labor, places disabled Iraq vets in call-center jobs. Midwest Institute spokeswoman, Jane Anderson, says, “Telework is especially good for people with disabilities. It’s not for everyone. Some people miss the social aspects of working in an office, but the ones who like it make very loyal employees.” One of the companies Anderson has recruited is Willow CSN., a call-center firm that handles sales and service requests for such companies as Sears, AAA and Carnival Cruises. Willow’s entire labor force is made up of virtual workers, 3,200 strong in 37 states and growing. CEO Angela Selden says Willow will double its force this year. In Lodi, Wisconsin, a town of 2,000 inhabitants, Gayle Buske founded a company called Team Double-Click, which matches administrative assistants and graphic designers with small businesses.
More than 12 million Americans now telecommute full-time, according to the Dieringer Research Group, which recently surveyed the trend for the International Telework Association & Council. Another 10 million telecommute at least one day a week. Combined, the ranks of these telecommuters has risen 10 percent since 2004.