Whether it's because of long commute times, the price of gas, or the thought of losing so much of your life to sitting in a car, train or bus, there are few people I know who would turn down the opportunity to work from home. But did you know that if just 53% of white collar workers telecommuted two days a week, the US could save 9.7 billion gallons of gas and $38.2 billion?
In Telework Exchange's 2008 study, they found that 84 percent of Americans depend on their own vehicle to commute to and from work. These workers spend an average of $2,052 on gas and 264 hours of travel time per year for their work commute. Wouldn't you love to save even half of that time and money? Imagine what we could do with it...spend more time with friends and family, have time to work on a garden or maybe even get 8 full hours of sleep.
So what's stopping us? An outdated and archaic view on how work gets done most efficiently. Often the lack of "face time" is brought up for why an employee can't work from home (or a cafe, library or anywhere else with wifi). With technology like Skype, the ironically named Facetime for iPhone and iPad, video iChat and myriad other options, that excuse doesn't really hold water any longer. What it really means is that your manager doesn't feel like he or she has control over your 8 hour work day.
I recently read a book called Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It, (believe it or not, my company gave it to me on my first day) and the authors (who used to be HR folks at Best Buy and implemented the program in their corporate offices) talk about focusing on results instead of time. It's a pretty revolutionary concept for the average office, but it is based on treating employees like responsible adults who know how to do their job. Amazing, right? And, believe it or not, even the Federal Government has a website set up for their own telecommuting initiative.
There are some studies that say the resources saved by telecommuting end up being absorbed by your home, increasing those costs. Sure, setting up a home office to be productive will have an initial expense, but in the first month that I started working from home part time, my utility bills did not go up noticeably. I fill up my gas tank half as often and don't spend $10/day on lunch because I can make my own food. Plus, I won't complain about missing hours of traffic every day, or having to be at work by 7am to avoid aforementioned horrendous traffic.
So, if you're a boss and want to help your employees decrease their carbon footprint and have a hand in saving huge amounts of resources, don't ignore this. Take a look at some of the following resources to get your office in the green.
(Image: Katy Maslow)