Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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DR.JOB Q and Q:Telecommuter Fears 'Recall to Office'

(Q.1) I'M REALLY NERVOUS ABOUT this talk about the end of telecommuting. There's no possible way I can keep my job and care for my family if my boss decides that I have to return to the office 5 to 9 every day. I am so much more efficient working from home with part-time baby sitters. I finish all projects exactly on time and spend all hours, night and day, on phone with clients and colleagues. Also, I don't spend enormous amounts of money on gas, or trains, and I don't waste hours commuting. Should I take this case to my bosses before they even start thinking about it? I don't want to get a call suddenly telling me to report to headquarters each day.

(A.) DON'T PUT THAT CART BEFORE THE horse. There's no reason to "crystal ball" and imagine that in days ahead this problem is suddenly going to appear. So far you haven't had any indication that it will, and you are working so efficiently, probably no one is thinking about changing that. In fact, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.'s recent survey shows 80 percent of the 120 human resources executives polled said their companies offer some form of telecommuting option and 97 percent said there are no plans to eliminate that benefit. So keep your head down focus on work, and don't give that worry "free rent in your brain."

(Q. 2) UNLIKE MOST PEOPLE WORKING FROM HOME, I hate it! For years I enjoyed the camaraderie of the best people in the world: my co-workers. Now when I make a great sale, or accomplish something else, I sit alone and congratulate myself. I remember the fun of announcing every achievement to my colleagues, and getting cheers, high fives and fist bumps. Then management decided it would save money if we all went home and worked through computers. They no longer pay for electricity, heat, space and many other costs. We do. Management maintains only a small office. Also, they no longer hire full-time people, and most of us buy our own health insurance, don't get vacations or leave pay and other benefits. So I'd like a call back inside.

(A.) YOU'RE NOT ALONE. While some cheer for the flexibility and other advantages of working from home, many others went home unwillingly when management gave that order. It depends upon your personal situation. If you have family obligations, it may be a positive change. The best situation is when employees have a choice and, of course, keep company benefits.

(Q. 3) I WORK FOR A SMALL FAMILY COMPANY and they really treat me like family. But I don't make enough to support myself. I have to live at home, and I'd like to move into an apartment with a friend. Also, my old car stopped running and my father is helping me find a used car to buy. I started to look for a job that pays more, but I don't know if I should tell my bosses. We are so close I don't want to hurt their feelings.

(A.) SOMETIMES SELF PRESERVATION COMES before hurting others' feelings. In this case wait until you actually HAVE another job that pays more lined up and it has been offered to you. Before you accept, tell your bosses about it and explain the only reason you are making the change is because of financial need. If they ask what salary you are being offered, tell them and if they meet it, stay put. If they don't make an offer, or make one that is too small, move on, but remain friendly. Keep sending notes, birthday and holiday cards, because you never know when you will need their friendship and/or help in some way again. At the very least, you want them to voluntarily speak well of you if any employer inquires in the future.

(Q.4) I HAVE A SMALL BUSINESS, operating from my Web site at home and I hired a free-lance designer to update it. The job consists of transposing two photos and changing the top headline. It's been two weeks since he agreed, but I haven't seen any change yet. He gets paid by the hour, and it's not a lot, but still, when I called to ask why it hadn't been done, he said he just forgot it and well get to it soon. I know he has bigger, more important clients, but shouldn't I be offended? I think I am.

(A.) CORRECTION: YOU KNOW YOU ARE OFFENDED. No matter how small your business is, you are entitled to the same respect as the big guys. There certainly are enough Web designers in every community to do what seems like a simple job. Most will be grateful for such a quick, easy assignment. Call one and expect to be treated with the quick response any client is entitled to.


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