Green your life at home, work & play

Benefits of telework (aka telecommuting) March 23, 2011

The modern workforce is continually evolving, and it has becoming increasingly common for companies to offer telecommuting options to their employees. Telecommuting typically involves an employee working from home (or other non-office location), and can be an occasional occurrence or happen or a regular basis. Telecommuting has the potential to save money, lower carbon emissions, and increase employee efficiency and effectiveness.

In 2009, the technology company Cisco released the results of their Teleworker Survey that polled 1,992 Cisco employees across five global regions. The survey was intended to evaluate several telecommuting topics, including environmental impacts, commuting patterns, technology barriers, and work quality and productivity. The study revealed that a majority of respondents reported a significant increase in productivity, work-life flexibility, and overall satisfaction as a result of their ability to work remotely.

According to Cisco’s Internet Business Services Group, the company has generated an estimated annual savings of $277 million in productivity by allowing telecommuting. Cisco employees also prevent approximately 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the environment, and fuel cost savings of $10.3 million per year due to telecommuting and avoided travel.

In 2010, IT executives from private and public companies in the Washington, D.C. metro area were surveyed on their telecommuting opinions and habits. Of those polled, a majority said that telecommuting would boost productivity (69% of respondents), decrease their carbon footprint (71%), improve overall quality of life (76%), save them time (84%), and make working for an organization more desirable (93%). About half of those polled were managers, who also feel that telecommuting has mostly positive benefits. 81% of managers said that their management ability is unaffected by telecommuting, and 93% of managers said that they were satisfied with the quality of work done remotely.

Another option for decreasing business costs and environmental impact is to pursue methods of teleconferencing. If you’re holding a meeting involving people located in different geographic areas, you can avoid travel costs and lost time by holding the meeting via a conference call or webcast. Teleconferencing is already a relatively common practice and includes several popular websites, such as GoToMeeting and Polycom.

Meetings that are conducted through teleconferencing can be scheduled with greater ease, eliminating the need for travel arrangements, and allowing for meetings to be arranged on much shorter notice. Many people can be involved in a teleconference, sometimes up to hundreds of people at a time, for greater involvement and collaboration. Polycom’s website includes a Carbon Calculator on their website, and although it is designed to sell their product, it is a useful tool to estimate the cost of each meeting in terms of dollars (or other currency), hours, and kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2).


4 Responses to “Benefits of telework (aka telecommuting)”

  1. Sun Microsystems has also implemented a similar program (the “Open Work Energy Measurement Project”) and found similar benefits. Apart from boosting productivity, the environmental affects were quite significant, as well:
    * Commuting was more than 98 percent of each employee’s carbon footprint at work. Only 1.7 percent of the total carbon emissions in an employee’s year is from powering office equipment.
    * Allowing employees to telecommute 2.5 days a week reduces each employee’s energy usage by 5,400 kilowatt hours per year.
    * By working at home 2.5 days a week, an employee saves $1,700 of her own money in gasoline and vehicle maintenance costs.

    There’s really no down-side to tele-commuting. I worked for RIM at one point, and I believe they were flirting with this idea, as well… And as a freelance web developer, I find it just as affective to conduct meetings over software such as GoToMeeting, than it is meeting in person.

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