The Boundaries and Benefits of Working at Home 111 As an example, I connect from my home network, across the Internet, to the networks of several of my clients. This provides me relatively high-speed access to their LANs without having to pay for leased lines or other expensive telecommunication links. I can administer their servers, perform troubleshooting tasks, or even develop applications on their private systems directly from my home system. With recent advancements in network-based telephones, you can even connect a phone to your home network and, through a VPN connection, have calls to your office routed directly to the phone at your house. This lends to the professionalism that is associated with telecommuting. IM Services Although they're often cited as a source of abusive practices, IM programs can be extremely val- uable in telecommunication settings. I use Microsoft Instant Messenger to stay in contact with re- mote developers and key clients. It should be noted, however, that IM can be extremely detrimental to performance. I have had em- ployees who had day-long conversations about virtually nothing "between moments of production." The problem is that technology work, when done well, requires concentration. Programming takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to shift into "high productivity" mode. Every distraction resets this clock. IM, if used incorrectly, can kill productivity if you're not careful. In fact, any interruption can. You need to set time aside that you are not available except for emergencies. This means turning off IM and e-mail. When writing, I must turn off Outlook and my phone. I also shut down Internet Explorer so that I am not tempted to browse the Internet to see the latest news or research something. All of these dis-