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Home Meets Work, Work Meets Home

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Do you want to set your own hours? Would you like to work in your pajamas or sweats instead of a suit and tie? How about having the freedom to spend more time with your family? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then have you considered the possibility of telecommuting?

Telecommuting refers to the concept of working from home. It's not a freelance or part-time position, nor is it a small business run from your garage. Telecommuting means full-time work, but via your computer at home. Work is facilitated through video conferences, broadband internet connections, and phone calls, after logging in to the company server of course.

The idea has been around for more than thirty years, but telecommuting hasn't been common until recently. Because of the advances in technology during the past decade, it has now become a real alternative to going to the office every day. Of course, some jobs may require a day or two at the office each week or month, perhaps to meet with clients or to touch base with colleagues. Apart from a few hours or days now and then, the telecommuter spends the rest of his time at home. Therefore, flexible schedules go hand in hand with the job. This is perfect for people who must take care of children or the elderly, or even for people who are housebound. Because there isn't any commute to the office, telecommuting is also much better for the environment. Absenteeism drops too.

On the flip side, telecommuting has a few negative aspects. It takes a special kind of person to work successfully from home. Supervision is nonexistent, or at times minimal. There are more distractions than the typical office, such as personal errands which must be run or the TV. So some employees struggle to remain on target and productive. In fact, output drops in the beginning because both the worker and his boss must get used to the system. Even if clear goals are discussed, the telecommuter must ultimately manage himself.

The isolation people feel when working alone also affects productivity.  Employees all over the world spend part of every day talking with coworkers by the water cooler, at lunch, or even over drinks after work.  Ideas get exchanged, and advice is given or taken. Talking about a problem relieves stress too.  But when a telecommuter faces a problem with a project or a looming deadline, the chance for help no longer exists.  Even worse, advancement in the company becomes more difficult, no matter how hard or effectively the person works.  If the employee isn't regularly in the office, he will likely get passed over for promotion.

There is a mix of good and bad when it comes to telecommuting. But the number of employees working from home continues to increase. And those who successfully make the transition rarely wish to return to the daily grind at the office.


Instructions:

Step 1: Listen to the article, which is almost four minutes and thirty seconds long. Listen only, and don't worry about understanding everything.
Step 2: Listen once more, and try to understand the general information of each paragraph. In your head, explain a paragraph's main idea in one or two sentences. Write your paragraph summaries after you have listened to the whole article. Listen again, check your answers, and compare your answers with a partner.
Step 3: Look at the article, which has missing vocabulary words. Try to write any words that you remember from the listening. Listen once more, and write the missing words.
Step 4: Read the article, and look up any unknown words. Now listen again. Can you understand more?
Step 5: Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to the article on the train or in your free time. Each time you listen, you will slowly improve!


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