Report: Without Pricey Commute, Teleworkers Work Better, Longer

Report: Without Pricey Commute, Teleworkers Work Better, Longer

When employees are allowed to work from home, they reward their employers with hours of extra work time. That's one of the findings from a survey of participants in The Clean Air Campaign's Telework Leadership Initiative, the largest telework pilot program ever undertaken in metro Atlanta.

"The findings from this survey really dispel the myth that telework is only a benefit to employees, and buck the trend of decreasing workplace flexibility reported by the U.S. Department of Labor in July," stated Ellen Macht, executive director of The Clean Air Campaign. "Each employer reported significant benefits, including increased productivity, improved morale and even savings on office space."

The Telework Leadership Initiative was launched in late 2003, with employers selected through an application process. Each employer worked closely with The Clean Air Campaign and national telework consultant Elham Shirazi to plan, implement and evaluate a six-month pilot program, which were implemented over the course of 2004 and into 2005. Through July, 2005, the Telework Leadership Initiative spurred the addition of almost 1,800 new teleworkers. Surveys of participating teleworkers and their managers demonstrate the program's success:
  • Almost 90% of teleworkers reported improved morale due to teleworking. Eighty percent of telemanagers agreed that staff morale improved.

  • Teleworkers save an average of 107.3 minutes each day they telework by not commuting, and most often spend this time doing more work (70.25%), spending more time with their families (46.56%) and catching up on household chores (34.16%).

  • More than 85% of managers reported that productivity improved or stayed the same; among those who reported improvement, they estimated an increase of 20%.

  • All TLI participants plan to expand their programs, with each manager, on average, adding four more teleworkers.

  • At current teleworking levels, these teleworkers will reduce 9.4 million vehicle miles from metro Atlanta roads each year.
"The Telework Leadership Initiative is by far the most successful telework pilot program that I have seen in the U.S. today," stated Elham Shirazi. "Much of the success is due to two things: providing a one-stop-shop approach for the creation of the programs, as well as the fact that there are better technology tools available -- for less money -- today."

Thirteen metro Atlanta employers participated in the program: Atlanta Regional Commission, Biolab, Inc., Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Drew Eckl & Farnham, LLP, GE Energy, The Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Power, Georgia Department of Human Resources, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Technology Authority, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, and Quintiles.

In return for their commitment, the participants received up to $20,000 worth of resources to start or expand a program: up to $10,000 in direct consulting services and a unique incentive of up to $10,000 in reimbursement for staff time devoted to program development and implementation.

"The Telework Leadership Initiative provides valuable lessons on how teleworking can become more widespread," continued Macht. "This is a model for making teleworking a reality at almost any type of employer, anywhere."