Teleworking seems like a no-brainer. It can save businesses billions of dollars in travel costs and office expenses while significantly cutting environmental emissions and paper consumption.
Yet even though the ranks of pajama-wearing keyboard jockeys are growing, the share of the U.S. workforce that telecommutes is still less than 3 percent. What will it take to get more businesses to embrace remote working? One key is to acknowledge that while telecommuting is great for the planet, it's not for everyone -- and knowing how to evaluate who's a good candidate for working remotely and who's not can be crucial to the success of a business's telecommuting strategy.
The green benefits of teleworking are undisputed: cleaner air, lower operating costs, and increased efficiency, for starters. Assuming a 40-mile roundtrip commute, each employee allowed to work from home saves the company -- and the planet -- 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually. And that's just for one day telecommuting per week.
Plus, businesses save an average of $20,000 annually for each full-time remote employee, data from The Telework Coalition shows. And many states offer incentive programs, like the Georgia Clean Air Campaign, that provide resources and funding to help develop a telecommuting policy. Employees who work at home don’t require duplicate office equipment, such as landline phones (though a smartphone is a “must have” as a telecommuter), fax machines, chairs and other office equipment that would likely wind up in landfills. Telecommuters also tend to use less paper by saving files digitally and in the cloud, thus reducing storage space, the need for larger office or storage buildings and, of course, trees.
And yet, only 2.9 million employees work from home more than half the time (not including the self-employed). Meanwhile, 40 percent of U.S. employees (approximately 50 million) hold jobs that that could be done while teleworking.
Next page: Old-school skepticism still rules