Kansas City Business Journal – by Morgan Chilson, Contributing Writer

Date: Friday, March 4, 2011, 5:00am CST

 Area companies are tapping relatively simple technologies to establish telecommuting practices.

The ability to work remotely creates opportunities for companies to maintain operations during emergencies, such as the Feb. 1-2 blizzard, or reduce office space and their ecological footprints.

“During the recent blizzard in Kansas City, many employees worked from home,” said Kristi Ernsting, spokeswoman for Hallmark Cards Inc. “Our IT group noted that use of the new Office Communicator system doubled that day.”

Hallmark uses a variety of software, such as its Office Communicator program, which enables employees to communicate via instant message and use audio and video conference …