Telecommuting grows in Tennessee as companies cut office costs

Work-at-home employersChattanooga's biggest users of telecommute employees include:• BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, 1,000 workers.• Unum Corp., more than 1,000 workers nationwide, including 409 in Chattanooga• Cigna Corp., 700 in the Chattanooga area.Telework advantages• Cuts office and parking expenses for employers• Cuts travel time and expenses for employees• Cuts energy use, pollution and traffic congestion for communityTelework disadvantages• Limits personal relationships among workers• Less direct, line-of-sight management, coaching by employers• Limits demand for and construction of offices, stores and roads

Heather Bridgeman lives nearly 20 miles from the downtown headquarters of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, but the BlueCross customer service expert still walks to her job every day.

The daily commute for Bridgeman involves walking upstairs to the office she set up in her husband's former "man cave."