By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

In the midst of the return of school year traffic and mounting gas and real estate prices, we can’t help but wish that more Kaua`i folks could work from home. Home-based businesses and telecommuters help the environment by decreasing traffic and pollution, keep our neighborhoods safe by their presence during the day, and generally give superior service to their clients and customers because they can work all hours (and often do) and keep costs down as a result of low overhead. On the family, leisure and community side, once home-based business owners and telecommuters can learn to balance, prioritize and set clear boundaries between work and play, family and business, and pro bono and for-pay work, they can lead exceptionally high-quality lives.

If you’re a leader in a Kaua`i company, we encourage you to investigate which (if any) positions/people might be able to work from home, and then develop and rollout a telecommuting policy. If you’re an employee who has an interest in working from home, do some research about the realities and ups and downs of telecommuting. If you’re still up for it, make a proposal to your employer including how you’d plan to stay in touch, share files and information, show your work progress, etc.

Some positions or industries that can mesh well with the telecommuting lifestyle are real estate, information technology, data entry, writing, freelancers of all sorts, and many others. For new and current entrepreneurs, a good way to assess if a home-based business is right for you and your company is to evaluate the option via your business plan. Telecommuting may not fit every company, position or person; a special set of circumstances is necessary to make this a workable venture (literally). Also, all home-based businesses must operate within County zoning ordinances and subdivision rules so research these before you set up shop.

So what’s this got to do with PR? There’s no better PR than doing something to mitigate a community problem and increasing the quality of life of our island’s residents. If your business implements a telecommuting policy, be sure to inform your employees and the public about it so they are aware of the benefits and your role in helping our community. This type of positive, business policy news will build a strong, positive PR foundation. So where home-work will work, we say, “go for it.”

For more information about telecommuting and home-based businesses, go to the International Telework Association & Council at www.telecommute.org, The Office of Personnel Management at www.telework.gov, and The American Telecommuting Association at www.knowledgetree.com/ata. A search on Google for “telecommuting” and “home-based businesses” will yield thousands of more results. We also recommend “The Everything Home-Based Business Book” by Jack Savage.

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