Group touts green benefits of telecommuting

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It has been estimated that around 1.35 billion (billions as in US billions not UK billions) gallons of gasoline could be conserved annually if every worker in the United States with the ability to telecommute did so at a minimum of 1.6 days per week, according to a report released by the American Electronics Association.

"Fewer commuters on the roads would mean reduced fuel usage, less traffic congestion and a lot less air pollution," said Christopher Hansen, president of the association, the largest high-tech trade group in the United States.

The question that comes to mind though is how the powers that be would react to that idea for reduced fuel consumption would mean less income for the oil companies, the petro-chemical industry and last but not least the treasury in the form excise duty on the fuel and also in lost revenue in the form of taxes from the oil giants.

And, said Hansen, "It is a win for workers, who can reduce long commute times and strike a better life-work balance."

The report suggests that 45 million Americans already telecommute at least one day a
week. If we could do that in other developed countries too, such as in the EU, in Canada and Australasia, for starters, then, how much more fuel and with it oil and with it finite resources, could be saved, as well as the reduction in air pollution and such.

In addition to benefiting the environment and employees, "teleworking," as the association calls it, has advantages for employers. In most cases people working from home are less stressed and therefore are more productive than those that have had to travel long distance to and from work. In some cases offering the ability to telework is a great recruitment incentive.

In addition to this companies that are able to have a great number of employees work from home at most times can reduce their office space and with it also their environmental footprint. They have lower office occupancy costs, quicker and less costly recruitment, and better retention of valued employees.

The ability to telecommute and work from home also cuts the incidents of absenteeism due to the fact that people can look after a sick child, for instance, without having to miss out working.
When it comes to cutting carbon dioxide in this context the Environmental Protection Agency calculates that conserving 1.35 billion gallons of gas a year through increased telecommuting would prevent 26 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment.

A University of Maryland survey says that nearly half of all commuters travel more than 20 miles round-trip to and from work; 22 percent travel more than 40 miles; and 10 percent travel more than 60 miles.

I know of some people in the UK who daily travel from places such as Peterborough to work in London or from Brighton or Portsmouth to work in London and while many of those use the train (which is rather an expensive way as far as the pocketbook is concerned) it is an awful lot of travel. We are here talking distance of over 50 miles each way. In the case of Peterborough it is probably on the 100 miles one way.

We do not have to do all that traveling in today's age and economy. A great many officer workers could quite well do their jobs, and more than well; better often, from a small office in their own homes rather than in an office in London or other large city.

Now let's see what the powers that be make of this...

© M Smith (Veshengro), April 2008