Telecommuting: The New Green Business

Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular, with currently more than 29 million U.S. workers telecommuting at least one day per month. This is a growing trend too, as more companies see the positive impact telecommuting can have on the environment, while helping reduce operating costs and increase productivity for their businesses. This green strategy can also help to improve a company’s brand, and if done properly, can be a great sell to shareholders.

telecommuting

Going Green with Telecommuting

An important benefit to telecommuting is in how it reduces gas usage and helps disseminate rush hour traffic. According to a recent whitepaper compiled by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish, the 29 million workers who are currently telecommuting have been able to save more than 390 million gallons of gas throughout the year. This equates to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 3.6 million tons.

This study further concludes that if American workers with similar jobs were able to telecommute just 2.4 days out of the week, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 51 million tons. This could provide Americans with an overall savings of $900 million dollars and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. This amount does not include reductions that could be seen in public transportation or the reduction of office space and utilities use.

Reduced Costs, Increased Productivity

While going green can be beneficial for your company’s image, how can it affect your company’s performance?

Telecommuting has been shown to improve productivity and reduce working costs. A study done by Staples Advantage showed that 54% of businesses that have employees who telecommute say that it has led to a recognizable increase in productivity.

Not only does productivity increase, but companies are seeing lower employee turnover rates and greater loyalty to the company. Company managers also tend to see a significant decrease in employee absenteeism, and an improvement in meeting deadlines. Another great benefit to telecommuting is the reduction in operating expenses. Companies find that they can reduce the amount of office space needed, which also reduces utility costs. Office and building supply costs are also reduced, since the business will not need as many phones, printers, paper products, desk supplies or other supplies with workers out of office.

Tips for Effective Telecommuting Strategies

Once you have determined that telecommuting is the right choice for your business, there are several things you can do to keep your business running smoothly.

  • Establish Clear Expectations. It is vital that you set clear expectations and guidelines for telecommuting employees. You want to establish strict deadlines and an appropriate means of communication.
  • Create Backup Data Plan. A study by Staples Advantages showed that 59% of companies do not properly backup data from telecommuters’ computers. It is important to provide these backup services for your telecommuting employees and provide proper training to protect and secure company data.
  • Schedule Regular Meetings. With employees working outside of the office setting, you will not be able to see them on a daily basis. Due to this, it is crucial that you schedule meetings on a regular basis. These can be face-to-face meetings or you can use web conferencing services, just as long as you are staying in constant communication. This will ensure that the employee has a complete understanding of the company’s goals and branding.

About the Author: Rick Riviere is the Founder and Managing Partner of Two Rivers Conferencing.

Photo credit: Corbis Images

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