Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Telecommuting gives me gas.

I have a very odd schedule. 

Let me preface by saying that I don't expect anyone to commit my schedule to memory, because I barely can. Here's how it goes:

I work every Monday from home, every Tuesday at my job, every other Wednesday and Friday from home and every other weekend at my job.

So Tuesdays are the only days that I have to deal with rush hour traffic. I need to be at work at 8 am, and if I don't leave my house by 7:13 am, I'm invariably late.

And Tuesdays I work until 5 pm. I rolled into my garage at 5:47 pm yesterday.

I'm no mathematician, but I'm thinking I spend an extra hour and a half, on average, just getting to and from my job every Tuesday. And I have to supply my car with gas in order to get up earlier in order to leave earlier in order to drive for a few ticks shy of an hour in order to get to my job by 8 am in order to not get a demerit if I'm just the least bit late.

In addition, I have to dress like a professional on Tuesdays.

Thank god this hoop-jumping only happens once a week.

Most people do the drive-to-work dance every freaking day. 

Which leads me to my topic. Telecommuting. It's such a good thing.

I recently heard a segment on NPR about telecommuting, and it resonated. Here's the bottom-line:

"Currently less than 3 percent of the U.S. workforce telecommutes the majority of the time (not including the self-employed), but 40 percent hold jobs that could be done from home. If those employees who could telecommute did so just half of time:

  • The nation would save 453 million barrels of oil (57 percent of Gulf oil imports)—a national savings of $31 billion per year
  • The environment would be saved from 84 million tons of greenhouse gases a year
  • The energy potential from the gas savings alone would total more than twice what the U.S. produces from all renewable energy source combined.
  • National productivity would increase by 6.2 million man-years or $200 billion worth of work each year 
  • Businesses would save $194 billion annually in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and turnover
  • Employees would individually save between $2,500 and $11,000 in transportation and work-related costs".

I particularly find that last bullet point compelling, because it directly affects my bottom line.

I understand that not everyone is in a position to work from home. A crazy computer box is essential to the whole telecommuting idea, and the "open the pod bay door, Hal" control that technology has introduced into our worlds is a blessing and a curse on so many levels.

Global and personal benefits aside, effective telecommuting comes down to productivity and trust. Employers need to trust that the folks working at home are actually working. Because despite all of our sophisticated technology, employers trust what they can see.

If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear it fall? And if an employee works from home, are they really working?

I'm sure the trust issues will work themselves out eventually. Because the tangible telecommuting savings are significant, and the personal benefits are beyond measure. It's a win/win on so many levels.

I save gas, money and time, I get to spend more time with my kids, and my employer has a happier, less stressed worker bee.

That sounds more like a win/win/win/win/win/win.....


  1. Yes! I've been telecommuting for 20 years. It has allowed me to be both good at my job and present as a parent. I have never missed a deadline and yet my house is also clean and I have multitudes of creative projects going at all times. Only telecommuting could allow me to work full time and maintain all my other interests. Thanks to my boss Kevin, who was a real trailblazer by allowing me to work from home in the late 1980s! It's the biggest reason why I am still at my job 2 decades later.

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