Paper Shufflers: At Last You Can Telecommute, Too

A GROWING NUMBER OF COMpanies now let employees telecommute--work at home using computers linked to the main office. At the same time, many companies have begun processing documents such as insurance claims and utility bills in digital-image form. Such imaging makes it easier to re-route documents to different desks as workloads shift. Now, New York-based Sigma Imaging Systems Inc. has come up with a way to combine both approaches and let clerks do high-volume work from home.

The challenge was to move bulky images to employees' homes quickly enough. Using a standard modem and phone line, someone could wait minutes to retrieve a single document. Sigma's answer was to use a high-speed data communications service called ISDN, for integrated services digital network. Plus, it has devised software that pulls in new images at the same time a worker is dealing with the one on his screen.

The first customer for the new gear is Consolidated Edison Co., New York City's electric utility. Sigma has pilot projects under way at Chase Manhattan Bank, Empire Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Virginia.

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