Telecommuting is a much sought-after work arrangement where employees can avoid the daily office commute and 9 to 5 routine. Working remotely via phone, Skype or in the Cloud ... with literally no office whether from home, locally, nationally and even globally is trending. In 2010, roughly 2.9 million employees (approximately 2% of the U.S. workforce) tele-commuted. This year, Forrester Research has projected as many as 63 million workers might telecommute at some point.

High technology has facilitated this approach which not only helps the environment but promotes work-life balance and a higher quality life-style while enhancing employee retention, productivity, morale and even company loyalty. Interestingly, 80% of employees consider telework a job perk.

Telecommuting saves workers from incurring more stress, transportation expenses and time associated with driving to and from work, as well as avoiding work-related expenses including coffee, snacks and meals. Employers save on costs of overhead -- office and parking space as well as office-related utility costs.

According to Global Analytics Network, businesses incur $600 billion in annual losses due to workplace distractions. Being removed from the office minimizes office politics, co-worker interruptions, daily distractions and drama while encouraging productivity.

Tele-workers tend to continue to work when they're sick ...and heal more quickly, without infecting others. Tele-workers have a greater ability to self-manage and concentrate. They have the flexibility and freedom to run errands or schedule appointments without losing a work day.

Providing this option gives companies greater access to a global talent pool while permitting them to recruit and retain high-quality employees. This option also diminishes the need to micro-manage and encourages accountability. While working from home makes it difficult for employers to monitor performance, it is equally challenging for employees to obtain recognition for work performance and have proper reviews.

Major advantages for the employer include having happier, more productive employees while also eliminating relocation costs.

Major challenges for the employer include:

- the need to change methods of management, as productivity is no longer associated with physical presence.

- tracking time worked for non-exempt workers.

- morale issues with those who are not telecommuting or eligible.

The inherent challenge for employees suggests that because one can always connect, being over-worked is a reality, either voluntarily or involuntarily. That said, telecommuting is here to stay. Although not everyone is disciplined and well-suited to working independently, working remotely can be a win-win situation for both company and employee with little downside, as long as the process is respected and not abused.

Judith Bowman, speaker and business protocol coach, is president and founder of Judith Bowman Enterprises and Author of "Don't Take the Last Donut and "How to Stand Apart @ work." She may be reached at