Here at EarthShare headquarters and throughout the greater D.C.-MD-VA area, we talk a lot about traffic. And last month our glum suspicions were confirmed: according to a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute, the Washington metropolitan region has the worst traffic congestion in the country. The average commuter in this area wastes three full days stuck in gridlock and spends nearly $1,500 just sitting in traffic.
And if that sounds wasteful, consider the price tag of congestion nationwide -- a whopping $100 billion per year! Unfortunately for D.C. and other gridlocked cities across the country, there’s just no perfect and readily available fix. More roads, tolls, and public transit options can help, but associated costs and construction timelines prevent these options from catching up with growth.
So, if we can’t build our way out of the problem, perhaps we should consider adding another solution to the list: the underappreciated, misunderstood art of telecommuting.
According to findings from the Telework Research Network (TRN), if all of the 41 million Americans with telework-compatible jobs worked at home just one day each week, roughly 423,000 tons of greenhouse emissions would be cut, commute costs would be slashed by $494 million, U.S. oil needs would be reduced by 2.3 million barrels, and savings from fewer traffic accidents would amount to nearly $93 million.
And the benefits for employers are staggering, too. According to another TRN study, businesses that let 100 employees work half of their time from home can save more than $1 million a year, not to mention the significant savings accumulated from lower electricity, real estate, maintenance and supply costs.
You may be thinking, “But I don’t know anyone who actually telecommutes.” We’re not surprised, but you may soon enough. Currently, less than four percent of U.S. private sector workers are telecommuting. But according to virtual think tank TechCast, this figure is expected to rise to up to 30 percent by 2019.
As workers become even more mobile, telecommuting is becoming a more promising opportunity for businesses. A recent GreenBiz report highlighted AT&T’s thriving telecommuting program. AT&T’s policy enables workers to telecommute via remote access technologies at least one day each week. GreenBiz surveyed participating AT&T employees and found that this group of teleworkers alone avoided 175 million commute miles and saved 8.7 million gallons of gas. The vast majority of AT&T’s teleworkers also reported an increase in productivity, job satisfaction, and overall work/life balance.
So how can you get started in the telecommuting revolution? Learn more about companies that are making telecommuting the new company culture from EDF+Business and get inspired to develop even more innovative solutions in your own city by checking out Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s (ITDP) article Our Cities Ourselves: Eight Principles for Transportation in Urban Life.
Are you looking for a job? Check out the FlexJob.com database with more than 6,500 telecommuting & flexible jobs.
Do you already telecommute? Tell us how it’s impacted your life and working relationships in our Comment section below!