The American Telecommuting Association
Wants To Increase The Number Of Active Telecommuters 

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Announcing The American Telecommuting Association's "Telecommuting Consortium"

Although we probably wouldn't recognize each other in an elevator, I'm willing to bet we care deeply about something we have very much in common: an abiding interest in growing the ranks of active Telecommuters, not only in the U.S., but around the world!

Hello. I'm Robert Moskowitz, president of the American Telecommuting Association, the first and largest membership organization for people who are Telecommuters, or who would like to be. But I'm not writing today to ask you to join, or even to ask you to help me provide our members with better and broader services.

No, I'm writing today primarily to describe to you some of the ways our organization is reaching out beyond our present membership to the 85 percent of all hard-working people now in the work force who did not Telecommute to work today, or anytime this week, or even this month -- to the 100 million or more additional "Telecommuters of the future" who presently may not know what "Telecommuting" actually is, or who may even be afraid of what it might be!

The benefits of Telecommuting for Telecommuters, their families, their employers, and society as a whole are extremely well documented. The trend is clear. In fact, we're suggesting that Telecommuting has already become nothing less than a major revolution in where America sits when it does business.

I feel passionately that the ATA should take the lead in communicating "What's Good About Telecommuting" to these people (see below), and through this letter I'm hoping to get you interested in what we're trying to do, and what we hope to achieve. Our overall goal is to increase the number of Telecommuters by 2 million in the next 18 months.

If any of this strikes a chord within you or any part of your organization, if our purposes and methods seem compatible and congruent, I'll be happy to talk with you about any aspect of it in more detail. If this topic is not of interest to you, or you're not the right person in your organization to take any action in support of it, please forward copies of this letter to people you feel might be more concerned with the future of Telecommuting.

Among the ways the American Telecommuting Association is reaching out to new and potential Telecommuters, you'll find:

I'm making myself available for public appearances, speaking opportunities, conference sessions, and other venues where I can push the message that "Telecommuting is good for you and your family, good for your company, and good for America" as hard as I possibly can. Too many people stare right at a wonderful Telecommuting opportunity and fail to see its benefits. Just like the old joke says, they're very cooperative and will do what we want them to do (i.e., Telecommute more and more often), but not until you get their attention! Anticipated First Year Impact: 10,000 more Telecommuters.

Many experts have been calling for a definitive, large-scale study for years. In the absence of it, much of what is "known" about Telecommuting is primarily subjective and personal. A definitive study would answer a lot of objections from people who subjectively maintain that Telecommuting is far less beneficial than it's cracked up to be.

We'd answer such questions as: Who Telecommutes? Why? What do they get out of it? What are the costs? Benefits? Productivity gains? Downsides? How many Telecommuters are out there, really? When and where do they Telecommute? What changes in the world of work might help them Telecommute even more, and might produce more benefits from their Telecommuting?

A study like this, done once or done regularly, would catapult Telecommuting to a new level of scientific legitimacy and business respectability. Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

The ATA envisions this as a "how to" series written in simple, straightforward terms, and made available in several formats, on such topics as:


· Outfitting A Home Office;
· Best Practices in Telecommuting;
· Costs / Benefits To Expect From Telecommuting;
· Recruiting Telecommuters;
· Troubleshooting Telecommuters' Concerns.

Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

The concept of Telecommuting is a product, like any other, and ought to be sold to American business interests in the same way telephones, fax machines, and computers first had to be put over -- because they're good for business!

One good way to do this is with the proven tools of direct mail marketing, in particular the 16- or 32-page magazine-and-sales-tool that's entirely oriented around convincing recipients to act on a single idea. In this case, the goal is to get people to experiment with Telecommuting. Depending on its acceptance, impact, and other factors, this "magalog" project could be distributed just once, or similar but improved versions could be produced and distributed regularly. Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

One of the most powerful ways that new ideas and new technologies spread is through first-person experience. You see your neighbor with a Model-T and, by gad, you begin thinking about getting one yourself. The ATA Roadshow is designed to build on this simple, but powerful pattern by giving people an opportunity to learn about Telecommuting first hand, to see and touch the equipment they can use for Telecommuting, and even to sit down at a workstation and have a real Telecommuting experience! Traveling from community to community, the ATA Roadshow will win higher levels of popularity for Telecommuting the old-fashioned way, one convert at a time! Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

Telecommuting is not rocket science. Any executive can stay home one morning and go over a difficult contract or work out a complicated business plan. Because such rudimentary levels of Telecommuting are so simple and easy to do, there has been little demand for a coordinated effort to find ways to do it better. So the Telecommuting trend has mushroomed in an "ad hoc" way.

But the ATA feels that growth in Telecommuting can accelerate to a much higher level if there is a dedicated think tank of experts interested in researching and developing the practice of Telecommuting. This Telecommuting Institute could sponsor pointed research and thoughtful investigations into immediate, practical ways to get better results from Telecommuting and get more people into the ranks of successful Telecommuters. It's a difficult mission, but shouldn't someone do it? Anticipated First Year Impact: 50,000 more Telecommuters.

Marketing is such a powerful part of our modern world that people almost don't respond to anything less than a major marketing effort. One element of such an effort would be printed inserts in every conceivable envelope or package that goes out to large numbers of people. Each insert will discuss, describe, or promote some aspect of Telecommuting, from practical matters of how to approach your boss for permission all the way to finding the best Telecommuting schedule for your work and life. Organizations interested in growing the Telecommuting market will want to include these inserts in their product and information packages. The ATA will work to have these inserts included in such mass market opportunities as utility bills, nationwide. Anticipated First Year Impact: 50,000 more Telecommuters.

As the ATA continues to develop the theory and practice of Telecommuting, it will be advantageous for products to be labeled "The Official Widget Of The ATA". These products and services will help to remind everyone who sees them of the immediate opportunities and advantages of Telecommuting they enhance or make possible.

Obvious tie-in opportunities include related and relevant offerings, such as:
 

· Contact Management Software and Systems
· Time Management Software and Systems
· Telecommunications Products and Services
· Home Office Products And Services
· Time-Savings Products And Services
· Organizing and Efficiency-Boosting Products And Services

Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

An important way to communicate with large numbers of potential Telecommuters is to reach out through daily and weekly newspapers. In addition to promotional efforts and occasional advertising, the ATA feels there's an opportunity to write a regular column on Telecommuting issues of interest to the general public. This column might be sold, or might even be given away to newspapers in return for a small blurb containing a telephone number or web site from which people could obtain more details on how to pursue their new-found interest in Telecommuting. Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

In the absence of a strong-enough press program, it's too easy for some editors to take their publications down the wrong roads with regard to treatment of Telecommuting. For example, during late 1997 and early 1999, many editors began asking for stories on "the downsides of Telecommuting." The ATA was asked many times by many different writers "What can go wrong for Telecommuters? What are the worst things about Telecommuting?" There wasn't much to say along these lines, and the onslaught quickly abated. But why should even a single "future Telecommuter" be slapped with an article so heavily slanted toward the negative?

In response to this problem, the ATA is now conceiving and beginning to implement a positive publicity program through which the ATA hopes to literally flood the desks of general, trade, and specialty publication editors with favorable ideas, facts, interpretations, trends, and "first-person" stories that reflect well on the trend toward Telecommuting. Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

The ATA is interested in facilitating one or more channels of person-to-person contact regarding the practical issues of Telecommuting. These channels might include:
 

· An online "chat" room where people can meet and discuss Telecommuting in real time.
· A mailing list where people can developing and maintain conversations regarding Telecommuting without regard to real time concerns.
· A newsletter or series of newsletters aimed at segments of the overall Telecommuting market, such as: those interested in exploring the possibilities of Telecommuting, those already Telecommuting, those supervising Telecommuters, and those charged with making management-level decisions regarding Telecommuting within the enterprise.

Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

Many organizations are now calling on the ATA for help in developing the first, rudimentary aspects of a comprehensive Telecommuting program for their employees. This means they are devoting precious time and energy to re-inventing such wheels as a Telecommuting Policy, a Telecommuting Agreement, selection criteria for applicants for Telecommuting, content for Telecommuting training programs, and the like.

The ATA feels we can save all this time and energy, and allow it to be redirected toward more productive endeavors, by freely offering employers the educational materials and practical hands-on items they want and need, such as training materials, and:
 

· A "Getting Started" kit for employers.
· "Business case histories" detailing the benefits of Telecommuting in particular industries.
· "Does Telecommuting Make Sense For You?": Interactive, online worksheet, or in print.

There may be other items of we can give away to help generate more interest, awareness and management confidence in the Telecommuting opportunity. Anticipated First Year Impact: 25,000 more Telecommuters.

One interesting possibility is to market the idea and practice of Telecommuting via some of the proven tools of the commerce, "Infomercials" in particular.

To make this work, some or all of the Telecommuting concept and practice would have to be converted into a standardized package that could be sold through this channel. Anticipated First Year Impact: 100,000 more Telecommuters.

In a rather large nutshell, that's the long-term program of the American Telecommuting Association. If you'd like to be kept informed, or if you have any interest in helping this project move forward, I hope you'll phone or fax me at a special number I've established for this project. It's 888-480-0076. You can also e-mail me at YourATA@yourata.com.

Thanks very much for your kind attention, and I'll be writing again later as news of this project continues to develop.

 

Regards,

Robert A. Moskowitz
President