Friday, June 8, 2007

This Fugal Life - Telecommuting Roundup

With the price of gas continuing to rise with no signs of stopping, many people and businesses are starting to take another look at telecommuting and it's affect on the bottom line. It's almost like a perfect storm for telecommuting as gas is putting pressure on both employers and employees to allow telecommuting to take off. Combined with the pervasive move to internet technologies allows employees to access most or all of the resources they need from anywhere they can get an IP address and these days that's almost anywhere.


The statistics are grim.

  • Gas has risen 50% in the last year
  • The average commute is 32 miles/day or 50 minutes [2]
  • The average fuel Efficiency in 2004 was 22.4 for passenger cars [3]
  • AAA calculates that driving costs approximately $.52/mile [4]
  • Households are spending 18% of their income to drive around [1]

Based on those averages, the "average" american worker is spending $3840 getting to and from work for the year. I can think of several other things to do with that kind of money besides flush it down the toilet getting to and from work. And for those of you who spend a lot more than 32 miles a day in the car or own a large sedan or SUV, time for a reality check you are probably spending quite a bit more.

Personally I have made the conscious choice to give up my car and drop down to a 1 car household. I have written this up in another post how I have now spent a year without the use of my own car. It not only saves me tons of cash, but it's healthier too.

How are you spending you hard earned household income? By all accounts most of you are spending 18% of your hard earned money so that you can drive around all year long. It hasn't been such a big deal with super cheap gas prices in the past, but many are starting to reevaluate if that is such a good idea.

And there are many out there that are so tied to their lifestyle they can't see that they might as well be throwing away tens of thousands of dollars a year just to get to and from work. They spend so much time on the road that they have become strangers in their own home. Spending more than 20% of their household income in gas alone just for one worker to get to and from work! [5]


One area where people are making a change is telecommuting. With advancements in communications and internet technology there is often little reason for an employee to have to come to work every day. Most of their activities can be done from home on the computer and both the employee and the employer can benefit.

The ITAC has figures that a well run tele-worker program can save employers up to $5k/year/employee that works 3-5 days at home. This is because you don't need as many desks which leads to smaller offices that need less power and maintenance. Workers can be more productive when they work from home because they don't have to waste time driving to the office, chatting around the water cooler, and other office activities that could sap time and performance.

But it's not just corporate greed that is driving this change, there are also other incentives to making this move.

Worker Flexibility / Retention

Many people also believe that offering a flexible scheduling and telecommuting will help give businesses an advantage to attract and retain the best and brightest to their ranks. Assuming that management can adjust to the fact that they will not always have a watchful eye over their workers it's usually a win for all involved.

Going Green Or Just Saving Green

Some places like The National Recreation and Parks Association are choosing to set workers up on a 4 day a week schedule. Between the 70 office worker employees this saves 100 gallons of gas a week as well as tons of carbon emissions a year. Smaller offices mean less wasted heating and cooling costs, mess material, and much much more.

Really does it matter why telecommuting is finally getting the recognition it deserves. It is something thats time has come and employee and employer can benefit if they take the time now to make accommodations.

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