Posted in: adoption, Communication, Green technology, IT projects, mobile technology, Special Report, telecommuting
Businesses on the East Coast got a taste of what a small natural disaster can do to productivity and communication when back-to-back blizzards struck. The heroes of the week — besides road crews and power company employees? Companies with telecommuting programs.
Even federal agencies with these arrangements were bragging last week about their uninterrupted service and workflow. The Defense Information Systems Agency barely noticed the storms because its four-year-old telecommuting program allowed workers to stay connected despite the yards of snow that accumulated in the region.
During the past three years the agency equipped about 70% of its 4,200 employees in the Washington area with laptops and virtual private network (VPN) connections that let them link to the agency’s unclassified networks, John Garing, director for strategic planning and information at DISA, told NextGov.com.
Workers at the agency are allowed to telecommute three days a week — even when the weather is good and the roads are clear. But having them equipped this way turned out to be a boon for the agency when the federal government had to shut down recently because of the extreme weather.
But not many U.S. companies have ventured as close as DISA has to the cutting edge of telecommuting.
Currently less than 3% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes most of the time (this doesn’t include the self-employed). But 40% of workers have jobs that could be done from home.
The folks at the Telework Research Network (TRN) have found that if those employees who could telecommute did so just half of the time (roughly the national average for those who already do):
- The nation would save 453 million barrels of oil (57% of Gulf oil imports) — a national savings of $31 billion per year (at $70/barrel)
- The environment would be saved from 84 million tons of greenhouse gases a year — that’s over 40% of President Obama’s goal for GHG reduction by 2020.
- The energy potential from the gas savings alone would total more than twice what the U.S. produces from all renewable energy source combined.
- National productivity would increase by 6.2 million man-years or $200 billion worth of work each year.
- Businesses would save $194 billion annually in real estate, electricity, absenteeism and turnover.
- Employees would individually save between $2,500 and $11,000 in transportation and work-related costs (not including daycare and eldercare costs)
- Employees would gain back an extra 2.5 weeks worth of time per year — time they’d have otherwise spent commuting.
- Communities would save over $3 billion in highway maintenance because 180 billion fewer miles would be driven each year.
- 150,000 people year would be saved from traffic-related injury or death each year.
- $18 billion a year would be saved in accident-related costs.
In total, that’s an economic impact of over $750 billion a year.
What could telecommuting save your company? TRN has a custom calculator that allows companies to figure it out. You can check it out here.
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