The Evangelical Ecologist has a fantastic roundup of the many benefits of telework (a.k.a., telecommuting) to individuals and to society. I'm not an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm all for reducing pollution and preserving the environment as secondary benefits that result from increasing efficiency, productivity, and quality of life.
Private Sector Industry Studies:
· An International Telework Association & Council (ITAC) study found that telework reduced turnover by an average of 20 percent, boosted productivity by up to 22 percent, and trimmed absenteeism by 60 percent. Additionally, it allowed companies to adhere more closely to the Clean Air Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
· An earlier (1999) study by Telework America showed that employees who telework can save their agencies up to $10,000 per year in reduced absenteeism and retention costs.
· A study by the American Management Association found that the absenteeism costs were reduced by 63 percent, an average of $2,000 saved for every employee.
· AT&T estimates its telework program realizes approximately $150,000,000 in annual savings ($100,000,000 through direct employee productivity, $35,000,000 through reduced real estate costs, and $15,000,000 through enhanced employee retention). For employees, cost savings from reduced commuting as well as improved morale and work productivity were identified as benefits. Also, AT&T teleworkers work an average of 5 more hours per week than AT&T office workers.
· Dow Chemical: Administrative costs have dropped 50% annually (15% attributed to commercial real estate costs.) Productivity increased by 32.5% (10% through decreased absenteeism, 16% by working at home and 6.5% by avoiding the commute.)
The cost savings in energy, real estate, facilities management, and so forth are astounding. As an engineer, I'm keenly aware that jobs move around geographically, and I hate commuting. I'd never take a job 20 miles away unless I had no other choice, but it would be a whole different story if I could work from home a few days a week. In Los Angeles, or other highly congested urban centers, a major telecommuting trend could lead to tremendous decreases in traffic, pollution, and stress.