Published On: Tue, May 14th, 2013

Telecommuting Could Save Employees and Employers Time, Money, Grief

By Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Solution Needed For Monster Commutes

CHICAGO, February 7, 2013 - With a new report detailing the growing cost of daily commuting to and from work, one workplace authority wonders if it is time for the nation’s employers to make a serious commitment to expanding the use of telecommuting strategies.

“Right now, a very small fraction of the nation’s workers who could viably work from home on a regular basis are actually doing so.  By not expanding the use of telecommuting, employers are negatively impacting the environment, worker productivity, job satisfaction and, most importantly, their bottom lines.  And, it is not a lack of technology or other resources that is holding back this expansion.  It is simply a lack of vision, a shortage of trust and an irrational adherence to antiquated notions of how and where work should be done,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The call for increased telecommuting comes on the heels of a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which revealed that increased traffic congestion is forcing the nation’s workers to build in extra time to their daily commutes to the tune of $121 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011.

The longest commuting times are found in Washington D.C., where it takes drivers three hours to reach a destination that would be 30 minutes away with no traffic.

On average, commuters are giving themselves one hour for what should be a 20-minute drive with no traffic.

“The impact of these monster commutes on the workplace is enormous.  Workers who do not build in enough commuting time are likely to be late or may simply decide to take a personal day.  Those who leave at the crack of dawn simply to arrive at a normal starting time of 8am or 9am are probably fatigued and not in a very good mood.  The end result is a workforce that is late, absent, and/or performing well below their potential,” said Challenger.

Obviously, there are many occupations that are not conducive to telecommuting.  However, the number of jobs that can be done remotely have grown significantly over the last two decades and will continue to expand going forward.

The latest available statistics from the Telework Research Network indicate that 3.1 million people, not including the self-employed or unpaid volunteers, considered home to be their primary place of work in 2011.  That is roughly 2.5 percent of U.S. nonfarm payrolls.

Overall, the number of telecommuters increased by 73 percent between 2005 and 2011.  However, according to the data, the number of telecommuters remains well below the potential.  The Telework Research Network estimates that as many as 64 million U.S. employees (just under 50 percent of the workforce) hold a job that is compatible with telework.

So, what is keeping telecommuting from growing?  It is not resistance from workers.  Nearly 80 percent of Americans polled in a 2009 survey said they would like to work from home.


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