The dream of working from home in your pajamas has probably been on the back of almost every ‘white collar’ worker at some point in their career. Not having to hassle with spending an hour or more in the car every day just to get to and from the office has always sounded pretty good. But that dream has never turned into a reality for most people. Even as recently as 2006 some suggested that there was more myth than reality to the idea of telecommuting and flexible work schedules (Gragg, 2006).
However, as gas prices have risen past the $4 per gallon mark, a renewed interest, and maybe even, sense of urgency, has again brought telecommuting to the forefront of employees’ minds.
If your total commute to work is 100 miles (50 miles each way) and you get 20 miles per gallon in your vehicle, at just $4.00/per gallon, it is costing you $20.00 per day, just to get to and from work. If you work 50 weeks per year, not counting holidays, it is costing you roughly $1000 per year to drive to and from your office.
Assuming the above costs and car mileage you could save $200 per year by working from home just one day per week. These figures also do not include maintenance and insurance costs which could be impacted by the amount of mileage you put on your vehicle.
Not only is there a cost savings, but the impact on the environment could be just as, or even more, important. Using our commute example above; you are contributing over 5300 pounds of Carbon dioxide per year to the environment if your commute is 100 miles per day. Reducing that by even 1 day per week will reduce your environmental footprint by almost 1000 pounds per year.
Individually these savings may not appear that great. But if you multiply this by the number of potential telecommuters, the results are staggering. A recent report from Telework Exchange has suggested that it may be possible to save over 9 billion gallons of gas and $32 billion per year, by merely working from home 2 days per week.
Whether or not this spurs an increase in telecommuting remains to be seen. There are so many other factors involved that it is hard to predict. Employers must buy into the idea of allowing their employees the flexibility to work at home. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. Despite evidence that there is an increase in productivity from telecommuting workers, a recent report from CIO Insight suggests that over 50% of companies discourage full-time telecommuting as opposed to encouraging it, while only 34% even encourage part time telecommuting. They do however suggest that this is an improvement over just three years ago.
There is much work still needed to increase the number of telecommuters. Rising fuel costs may just be the impetus that is finally needed.