More employees today are being offered flexible work schedules and telecommuting options than ever before. Face-time at work, despite the competitive job environment, is still an important prerequisite for promotion but is increasingly balanced by cost considerations. "Employers are realizing that there may be benefits in offering employees personalized work options," says Allen Salikof, president and CEO of Management Recruiters International, Inc. (MRI), a global Cleveland-based search and recruiting firm. "In these tough times, telecommuting can reduce office space needs, lower monthly overhead, and possibly even extend the hours of customer service. In some cases, flex-time work schedules have been found to increase worker productivity." According to statistics released by the International Telework Association & Council (ITAC), there are more than 28 million telecommuters in the United States. 2002, a down market year, saw a 17% increase in the number of daily telecommuters over the previous year, and projections for 2004 surpass 30 million. MRI estimates that employees who telework can save their employers more than $10,000 each in reduced absenteeism and job retention costs. By reducing office space requirements, an effective telework program can cut corporate real estate costs by some 25%.