Over the weekend, I was shocked at the sudden rise in gas prices – we’re over $3.17/gallon here in MN. Considering I drive 50+ miles on a given day to and from work, my wallet is taking a pounding.
For an increasing number of technology professionals, ‘Teleworking’ is an attractive option. The Telework Research Network released findings that might make it attractive to more employers. Here’s a short summary of their findings…
…if the 41 million Americans who hold jobs that could be done from home chose to do so for at least one day next week, the savings would be $772 million dollars in total, including:
* Commuter cost savings of $494 million
* A savings of 2.3 million barrels of oil totaling $185 million
* Traffic accidents reduced by 775, for a savings of $93 million
Companies can save over $6,500 per employee if that employee telecommutes just one day a week. Citrix Online is saving $2 million dollars in physical space costs by reducing seats in its office by allowing employees to work remotely.
If those numbers are accurate, teleworking is absolutely worth looking into.
Teleworking doesn’t necessarily mean ‘working from home’ either. A growing trend is ‘coworking‘ where remote workers share office space. For many, the home office can be full of distractions, so finding a location that caters to teleworkers that has Wifi and a shared printer can be useful. Other options include Wifi-enabled coffee shops and libraries.
What about productivity?
Many people who frequently telework, report being ‘more productive’. Is this true? Many studies have been done by companies with a vested interest in the findings, but Brigham Young University released a study that seems to back up the anecdotal evidence. In it, they found that teleworkers were able to put in more hours per week before they felt it interfered with their personal life. Once you eliminate the commute and the unimportant distractions such as small-talk, it seems logical that more hours for ‘real work’ are available.
Teleworking is also a balancing-act of sorts. It’s important to ‘be available’ via email and/or cell-phone to the office staff. And while many are not convinced office meetings are good for productivity, they do serve a purpose. A well-run meeting with a defined agenda can produce real results. Now, with the influx of video-teleconferencing and instant messaging, the remote worker can still keep in touch with the home base.
Obviously, some professions lend themselves to the teleworking option better than others. Writers, software developers, graphic and web designers, and sales staff seem to be the best-suited for this form of remote work.
The trend towards teleworking is still relatively new. As the technology to support it improves, hopefully employers will see the potential benefits and will encourage this ‘new mode of working’.
How about you? Does your company support or discourage teleworking? Would they be more open to it if there was a proven benefit to the business?