Telecommuting to Celebrate Earth Day

The first Earth Day was in 1970 and I was but a young sprout. Did you know that it started as a day of education about environmental issues?New Image

I am an avid recycler and try to be smart about using our natural resources. People either think I am a total weirdo or really appreciate the fact that I walk along the Chicago lake front picking up other people’s trash. I view it as my small contribution, and I don’t mind doing it. Although I wish it wasn’t there in the first place…

A way businesses can make a small contribution is to allow their employees to telecommute or work virtually now and then. A business hosted VoIP phone system can make this seamless for both the employee and the customer. (I used to joke that I could probably program my system to make me breakfast because it has so many options.)

Let’s attach some real, quantifiable savings in dollars and resources from telecommuting.

What benefits can a company get from letting their employees telecommute? According to an American Express OpenForum article, a company could save up to $20,000 per employee annually if they telecommute full-time. Did that get your attention?

Both companies and employees get benefits from workplace flexibility. Smart companies are using this as a talent retention and productivity strategy. Employees used to have to “call in sick” even when they were able to work to let the cable guy in, etc. Things happen and people need to be out of the office sometimes – but often employees can still be productive if given the right tools. This is a win-win for both the company and the employee.

Many studies show that flexibility builds employee loyalty, and is a factor prospective employees consider as they are evaluating job offers. I personally think that companies like Yahoo! who are going against this trend will lose the war for talent, and some of their best employees.

Global Workplace Analytics posted some truly compelling statistics about potential resource savings last year in Earth Day By The Numbers – Statistics on Telework And How It Contributes:

“Our research shows that if the 41 million Americans with telework-compatible jobs worked from home just one day, U.S. savings would total $772 million including:

• $494 million in commuter costs
• $185 million from 2.3 million barrels of oil saved
• $93 million from 775 fewer traffic accidents

And that’s not all. If everyone who could work at home did just one day, the environment would be spared 423,000 tons of greenhouse gas—the equivalent of taking 77,000 cars off the road for a year.”

A hosted phone system isn’t the only thing a company needs to have in place for employees to work remotely. Business communications trends such as video conferencing, instant messaging, cloud storage, and other technologies complete the suite of services. However, these are readily available and reasonably priced. Technology should not be a limiting factor at this point for companies of any size.

Global warming is no joke, although I have been known to say something snarky about it during a Chicago winter cold snap. We all need to contribute where we can, and one way to do that is to not sit in rush hour traffic when we can avoid it.

Happy Earth Day. I probably will go hug a tree. And walk my dog in the park.

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Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

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2 Responses to Telecommuting to Celebrate Earth Day

  1. Sarah T. April 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    I totally agree. This draconian idea that to be productive employees must be in the office is so wrong. I am at my office right now (self-employed) and I am not being productive – instead I am on FB.

    • Catherine Morgan April 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      At many places you could be in the office and still on Facebook 🙂 We all need study breaks. Productivity is about prioritization and motivation, and I tend to think it is location independent. You are going to be productive (or not) wherever you are physically located.

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