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Technology allows wheelchair-bound Dave Evans to work from his home


More than four years ago, Dave Evans sustained a neck injury that left him in a wheelchair. As much as he wanted to return to the workplace, it wasn’t practical.

“I wanted to work in the office,” Evans said, “It just didn’t work, being in the wheelchair.”

With the help of his employer, the McGladrey & Pullen accounting and consulting firm, and the Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and care assistants, Evans found a way to fulfill his work duties through telecommuting.

“All of our key clients were very receptive,” he said, “Clients even meet occasionally in my home.”

Evans, a director at McGladrey, has direct client service responsibility for about a half-dozen corporate clients with annual revenues ranging from $3 million to $100 million. He directly supervises the staff members who do work for those clients, and he delivers reports and financial statements.   Evans performs estate and investment planning and also does research on the Internet. He also gives lectures on telecommuting, such as a speech he gave Oct.29 to the Iowa Business Leaders Network.

Evans emphasizes that his employer and colleagues have been very supportive of his telecommuting, but there are challenges.

“One challenge is staying in the loop, at the office in particular and trying to get the right personnel assigned to my clients,” Evans said.

Another challenge Evans has to deal with is the perceptions of his co-workers in the office, which he occasionally visits for meetings.

“Telecommuting is more than having a phone in your car or just working a few hours a day,” he said. “I have everything that I need here to function. When you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind, so sometimes they don’t realize what you’re getting done.

“Decisions can be made around you, so you have to stay on top of communications. I’ve got e-mail. I’ve got forwarding from my office phone to my cell phone. You’ve got to make a strong investment in the technology and the software interfaces to review work online in real time. I can make comments on a file and send it back for immediate changes. We have shared files and databases.”

According to Evans, developments in technology and the immediacy of communication that is now available make telecommuting a more viable option, but he doesn’t think it’s for everyone. He says telecommuting should only be used “when it’s necessary. With too many employees working from home, you really couldn’t keep track of what they’re doing.”

Evans warns that telecommuting is not for people who want to goof off or moonlight on the company’s dime. It is only for those who are self-motivated.

“You’ve got to stay focused and keep distractions to a minimum,” he said, “I was a partner with a firm. Whenever you’re at that level, you have to be self-motivated. The motivation from 9 to 5 is to get as much done for the clients as possible.”

Though some might find working from the home to be fraught with distraction, Evans says that he finds the opposite to be true.

“I can focus on things a lot better,” he said. “I don’t have the constant interruptions of people stopping by.”

There are drawbacks to that, however.    “I do miss the camaraderie,” Evans said.


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