Telecommuting Makes Immediate Sense

A beautiful home office is just one perk for telecommuters.

For many years, Telecommuting has made good personal, practical, and economic sense. But today, there's a greater urgency than ever before to push for broader use of telecommuting: Global Warming.

For most people, the nearly unanimous concern about Global Warming among climate scientistics and specialists around the globe makes this issue worthy of efforts toward helpful solutions. But even those who dispute the reality of Global Warming readily admit that telecommuting provides many other advantages, entirely separate from any reductions it produces in the overall level of greenhouse gas emissions. So both sides can get behind the effort to make telecommuting an option for more employees.

Telecommuting's beneficial impact on any possible danger from Global Warming stems from the alternative it offers to physical travel -- which is inherently resource-intensive, any way you look at it. Since a good deal of today's work consists of "symbolic analysis," essentially sitting in front of a computer screen and working the keyboard and cursor, and since this kind of work can be done with no loss of efficiency almost anywhere there is an Internet-connected computer, insisting that all workers do all their work at centralized locations seems outdated.

And it is, because telecommuting greatly reduces an employee's use of resources.

By reducing the amount of travel involved in accomplishing a given quantity of work, telecommuting offers the potential for immense savings in non-renewable resources. Just one large employer has calculated that its telecommuters' reduced travel habits prevent some 47 million pounds per year of greenhouse gases from entering the environment. Along the way, these telecommuters also save about $10 million in fuel costs each year.

Of course, not just one, but thousands of employers can be home to these kinds of benefits.

According to a report released in 2008 by the American Electronics Association, as soon as every eligible U.S. worker is telecommuting for one or two days per week, our nation will automatically be conserving about 1,350 million gallons of gasoline each year. The Environmental Protection Agency calculates that fuel conservation on that scale would eliminate 26 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year that would otherwise be released into the environment.

It's not just the telecommuters themselves who save from reduced resource use. Employers realize significant energy savings from their telecommuters, too, if only because telecommuting allows them to get by with less office space, which in turn tends to reduce their bills for lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning -- and also reduces their power consumption for office equipment. It gets even better: Fewer employees coming to a central location require a smaller parking lot, which allows for less acreage to be paved, lowering construction and maintenance costs while reducing the need to transport and install tons of paving asphalt -- another non-renewable petroleum-based material.

There is also the special appeal of being a "green employer," which attracts job applicants who value environmental considerations.

Non-Environmental Benefits, Too

Aside from environmental considerations, other benefits of telecommuting include improved productivity, increased employee satisfaction, and longer employee retention. More than 90% of telecommuters claim that being allowed to work from home is important to their overall job satisfaction.

Telecommuting also leads to a geographically dispersed workforce, which provides enhanced business continuity in the face of problems associated with inclement weather, traffic and other travel congestion delays, and the occasional unforeseen catastrophic flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane, tornado or even terrorist attack.

So while telecommuting has made a lot of sense for a great many years, in 2010 it makes more sense than ever.

More later ...

Photo Credit: Robert Moskowitz