Telecommuting could save America $4.5 billion


The American Electronics Association released a report last week as part of Earth Day celebrations making a strong case for telecommuting. The study found that if all employees in the U.S. whose positions allowed it worked from home two days a week the demand for gasoline would drop by 1.35 billion gallons!

The report also addresses many of the concerns managers have with their underlings telecommuting, dispelling several, and providing additional reasons for companies to support working from home. The strongest reasons other than cost savings are that working from home improves both employee retention and productivity.

For many employees, the technology to enable telecommuting is already available. Possibly one of the biggest hurdles is the need for a secure connection to the work network, known as a VPN, but in recent years these have become more common. Off the shelf solutions such as LogMeIn and GoToMyPC provide secure connections and are easy to set up, providing a link to a computer already on the network. This leaves just the need for a laptop, miscellaneous office equipment and a high speed Internet connection to complete the telecommuter's home office.

I would love to be able to work from home for a few days a week at my day job as a database administrator. I currently commute about 40 miles round trip, and while I carpool, I am still spending a nice chunk of my monthly take home on gas. In my case, the technology is all in place, and as for home office equipment, I'd be willing to use my own technology to work from home a few days a week. Unfortunately working from home is still looked at warily by my employer, though given the green initiatives in place at work; this report may be just what I need. I guess I'll be doing a mass emailing in the morning! I think I'll need support from the president to get this one green lit.

What do you all think? Do your employers allow you to telecommute? Why or why not? Let's hear from you.