Telecommuting could save companies $10,000 per year per employee and save employees several thousand dollars a year, according to a new report.
Telecommuting (aka teleworking or workshifting), if you haven't heard of it, is where employees work from home or some other location rather than in a company office. A new report titled Workshifting Benefits: The Bottom Line [PDF] finds that telecommuting could save companies over $10,000 per employee per year (assuming employees telecommute half-time and from home, which is approximately the national average for those who currently do so).
Expanding these findings out to the country as a whole, US companies could save over $400 billion a year.
These savings come from "increased productivity, reduced facility costs, lowered absenteeism, and reduced turnover."
Savings for Employees
The employers aren't the only ones who would save money, though. Telecommuting "could save employees between $2,000 and $6,800 per year—the result of reduced driving and fewer work-related expenses."
Nationwide, that comes to $170 billion a year.
Additionally, the average employee would save approximately 2-3 workweeks a year from telecommuting.
Benefits for the Nation
There are some significant benefits the nation as a whole would gain from more telecommuting, too. A few such benefits the report mentions are that the nation would:
• Save $23 billion a year in imported oil;
• Cut Persian Gulf imports by 37%;
• Reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road;
• Achieve 27% of the nation’s 2020 goal for GHG reduction from light cars and trucks;
• Prevent over 95,000 traffic injuries and deaths;
• Save over $11 billion in accident costs;
• Lower highway maintenance costs almost $2 billion a year.
Telecommuting Slow to Catch On, but Changing?
Unfortunately, telecommuting is an idea that started decades ago but has been slow to catch on.
Currently, not even 2% of employees consider home their primary place of work. Theoretical estimates and empirical evidence suggest that approximately 40% of working people have jobs that could, at least part of the time, be performed from a remote location (not in the office, that is).
Although, things may be changing now. There was a 74% increase in telecommuting from 2005 to 2008.
Additionally, federal employees "have been required to telework to the maximum extent possible since 2000." (Although, only 5.2% currently do so.)
But, again, there is hope. The "current administration’s proposed budget for 2011 calls for a 50% increase in telework," the report highlights. Additionally, the House and the Senate have both passed bills aimed at enforcing the federal telecommuting mandates.
Will telecommuting finally become a widely used option in the near future? Will we capitalize on its huge potential benefits?
TechCast, a virtual think tank based out of George Washington University, says we will. It forecasts that "30% of the employees in industrialized nations will telework 2–3 days a week by the year 2019." Do you telecommute or have it as an option at your job? If not, is it on your company's radar?
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