ARLINGTON, VA — Teleworking -- even as little as two days per week -- has turned a corner, according to a study conducted during National Telework Week. More than 60 percent of organizations surveyed said that management is more open to allowing employees to work remotely than they were just one year ago.
And the benefits of having even a part-time remote workforce accrue to everyone: Companies get more work out of their employees and can cut real estate and other office costs, and employees report higher job satisfaction, more productivity and significant cost savings.
In fact, allowing workers to stay at home two days per week adds up to giving them a $3,400 annual raise.
The figures come out of National Telework Week, which took place February 14-18, and was coordinated by Telework Exchange and underwritten by Cisco. Over 39,000 employees pledged to work at home during the week, most of them government workers, and 10 percent of whom had never worked remotely before. The remote work conducted by those employees during Telework Week led to $2.7 million in savings this year.
Companies and government agencies alike are more open to telework, as the tools available for remote working become more sophisticated and more affordable at the same time. And both employees and managers believe that remote workers are more productive than purely office-based employees.
That's due in part to reduced commute times -- while saving about two hours per day of commute time, workers devote about 60 percent of that time to work, and take the rest as time off. The result is a win-win situation where companies get more productive time from workers while workers get more personal time. The improvement in work-life balance is one of the key benefits of teleworking.
Telework Week pledges came primarily from the federal government, in part because Telework Exchange is situated in the Washington, D.C. area, but also in part because last December, President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act that will require, by June 2011, that every federal agency develop a policy allowing employees to telework, determine which workers are eligible for teleworking, and developing training, communication and supervision protocols to make sure that everyone benefits from remote-working arrangements.
"As organizations look toward the future, telework is a powerful tool in retaining experienced workers through enhanced work/life effectiveness and recruiting employees who value flexibility as employment criteria," Cindy Auten, General Manager of Telework Exchange, said in a statement. "Combined with potential energy and real estate savings, telework is key ingredient to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our workforce."
If a larger portion of the public and private workforce were able to work remotely more often, the financial and environmental savings could be huge, according to a report from Telework Exchange.
If just the eligible federal employees worked at home two days per week, they would collectively save $3.8 billion in commuting costs; if the entire eligible workforce did the same, the savings would rise to $215 billion, and 143 million tons of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided.
Telework Exchange has published a free report that collects the data from Telework Week 2011; you can learn more and download the report here: "Filling the Tank with Telework."
Photo CC-licensed by David Joyce.