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Kate Lister, the author of “Undress for Success,” has come up with some impressive figures when it comes to the amount of money that could be saved by switching U.S. employees who have jobs compatible with telecommuting to actually working from home for at least half of their working time. The bottom line, according to Lister, is a potential total saving of $500 billion. Lister’s numbers are based on the telecommuting savings calculator she’s built, using figures from the U.S. census.
Currently, less than 2 percent of U.S. employees telecommute for the majority of their work time. An estimated 40 percent of those employees hold jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, however. The savings available if all 40 percent could work from home for at least half of their work time are impressive. These are just a few of the savings that make up that $500 billion bottom line:
- Businesses could save over $100 billion — that’s $8,300 per employee — in real estate, electricity, employee turnover and absenteeism costs. There are other potential savings in security, maintenance, parking, ADA compliance and, of course, coffee.
- More than 218 million barrels of oil could be saved which, at the price of $80 per barrel, translates to a savings of $17 billion, and could reduce Persian Gulf oil imports by 28 percent.
- Employees could save between $3,400 and $10,500 in transportation and other work-related costs, not including eliminating daycare or taking account of the home office tax breaks that many telecommuters are eligible for.
- More than 73,000 people could avoid traffic-related injury or death, together with almost $8 billion worth of accident-related costs. Telecommuting won’t wipe out traffic accidents, but it could make a dent in the numbers.
The calculator does account for factors like the increased costs associated with working from home and those employees who may make the switch to telecommuting but have already brought down transportation costs by using public transport or car pooling.
Of course, the likelihood that 40 percent of employees will make the switch to telecommuting in the near future is very low. But it’s important to keep in mind the savings available both for the country as a whole and for individual companies. These numbers can make for a compelling argument if you’re working on convincing an employer to let you work from home on a regular basis, or you’re trying to get a corporate telework pilot plan approved by senior management.
You can read more about Lister at her site, the Telework Research Network. She also provides a variety of telecommuting resources, including information on telecommuting opportunities.
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