For Earth Day Today, Work From Home on Monday…or Tuesday…

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by shep

Yup, if you don’t have an important face-to –face meeting at the office tomorrow, or the next day, or the next…tell your boss you’d like to work from home.

In the age of ubiquitous high-speed home internet access, cellular telecommunications, VoIP, video capable computer monitors, WiFi hot spots and GHz-fast home computers, what could be stupider than millions of us slogging through miles of crawling traffic at the exact same hour of each day so we can sit in a cube and phone and e-mail each other?

About 114.5 million people commuted to work in 2004 with a round trip of around 30 miles at roughly 21 mpg.

What if government provided incentives to business to telecommute say 15 or 20 or 25 percent of its employees each day of the work week. They could be different employees, based upon what they needed to do, or some of the same employees who mostly work by phone or email anyway (e.g., sales and customer service employees). (BTW, this is happening now on a growing scale in progressively managed companies because they’ve done the math and know that: 1) individual employee productiveness goes up and 2) they can reduce brick-and-mortar and other costs associated with a large office-based workforce.)

That’s more than 40 million gallons of gasoline that could be saved each year with this one measure, which increases productivity and reduces corporate brick-and mortar costs. That's without considering the 5.7 billion gallons of gas and $100 billion lost from resulting rush-hour congestion.

Only the shortcomings of own management psychology prevents us from implementing this (and probably many other) cost and pollution-saving changes. I’ve helped develop telecommuting policy for $multi-million organizations, only to see them be relegated to “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies that result in little or no increase in the advantageous use of telecommuting. The reason: executives and managers don’t believe they can trust their employees if they’re not in the office, regardless of the data. Not to mention that, for many mid-level managers, their jobs would be even more redundant without the responsibility of glorified babysitter.

My favorite repost to those managers is, “look around you; could these employees be any less productive than they are at the office? It’s the office that provides endless opportunities to socialize and chat, compared with the home-office." Granted, that has a value that mangers also seldom grasp but those benefits (esprit de corps, comraderie, peer competition, etc.) can be easily achieved with one fewer day in the office per week – at least.

It's way past time to get our heads out of our traditional boxes, whether they be cars, cubicles or 20th-century MBA orthodoxy.

(Cross-posted at Queen of All Evil)

2 Comments

Ara Rubyan Author Profile Page said:

And another thing: think of all the lost man-hours of productivity when you sit in bumper to bumper traffic.

If you figure 25 feet from headlight to headlight, that's 200 cars per lane per mile or 800 cars for a four lane highway. If traffic is backed up for two miles that's 1600 -2000 people whoput their lives on hold for, say half an hour or 1000 man-hours.

If the gawkers are slowing down on the opposite side to take a look that's another 500-1000 man-hours.

And if the accident occurs at an interchange, that's ANOTHER 1000 man-hours for each freeway that feeds into the interchange.

No wonder our balance of trade sucks. Well, that and we take off the entire month of December for Christmas parties.

I'm just saying.

shep Author Profile Page said:

I suspect that's a big part of the "$100 billion lost to rush-hour congestion." Though, not all that time is unproductive and Verizon and Cingular (sorry, AT&T) are making money since now we can spend the whole time we're driving to work talking on the phone. NOOOOOOOOO!

Oh, and sorry I left the bold on all night. NOOOOOOOOOO!

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