The touch of a button can unite a cross-continental conference call, and the allure of a decreased dry-cleaning bill is enough to tempt many hard workers away from the world of grim cubicles and endless vapid water-cooler banter. . . but are the merits of working from home/telecommuting really worth giving up on old-fashioned face-to-face office life?
Red Asphalt and Black Skies
Each gallon of gas we use emits around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Commuters driving cars and trucks amount to one fifth of carbon emissions in the U.S. alone, and carbon monoxide is one of the leading causes of global warming. It also doesn’t help that the more difficult gas is to extract, the more resources it requires to process. Not to mention nearly 1.3 million people die in auto accidents globally each year.
If you think about it, it puts a whole new spin on tires that need not needlessly wear down their tread. Rush hour is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the road and injure yourself, even a seemingly mindless whiplash can turn into a work-crushing nightmare. The environmental and safety hazards of reducing your driving time doesn’t stop there, in fact, the Consumer Electronics Association estimates that current telecommuters are already saving enough energy to power one million U.S. homes for an entire year.
Although many surmise that the allure of sleeping in and being pajama-clad all day might end up in distracted disaster, however studies show that simply isn’t the case. A study by Stanford University found that employees that telecommute can boast 13 percent more productivity that their in-office counterparts. Fluorescent lighting, pretending to laugh at innocuous jokes, and being forced to sign birthday cards for people you don’t know don’t look so bad now, do they. A study by the University of Austin also found that telecommuters work 5-7 hours more than their counterparts, proving that traffic isn’t just horrible for the environment, it’s also a productivity-sucking waste of time.
More Gratitude and Giving, Less Stress
The larger, more altruistic impact of working from home can not only be beneficial to our external environment, but your own internal environment. Working from place of tranquility and comfort allows employees to be free from distraction mentally and physically. A University of Pennsylvania study found that telecommuters not only feel more valued when they are allowed to work from home, but they also experience less stress. The lowering stress levels correlate to better work life balance.
Employees that work from home can spend more time on hobbies. Instead of white-knuckled traffic jams from 5-6 PM, they can enjoy gardening or a walk with the dog. Furthermore, working from home can cut costs for both employees and employers. Office clothes, gas money and obligatory restaurant lunches are out of the picture, and it is estimated that companies may save up to $11,000 annually for each employee that that telecommutes. In an earth-friendly nutshell, telecommuting can save you and your employer time, money, resources, frustration and delay . . . what’s to lose? Except maybe a less hasty onset of global warming and a grumpier workforce.