Teleworking or telecommuting can easily reduce traffic congestion in large cities and help you save money. It's also good for the environment and you'll probably get more work done too.
New York City's Mayor Bloomberg's congestion tax ran into a brick wall in the New York legislature. The major's plan was to charge cars and trucks a tax to come into the city during rush hour. His goal of reducing carbon dioxide and relieving congestion and saving gasoline is laudable.
We think Mayor Bloomberg can have better luck talking to the City's large employers about teleworking. In fact, he should first look at New York City's government workers and see what they what services and jobs would lend themselves to telework. Talks with New York's Governor David Paterson and State agencies also are in order.
The Case for Teleworking
Gasoline prices will continue to climb as the summer driving season approaches and warm weather arrives. All the talk is about increasing supplies. In this Law of Supply and Demand World we live in, I don't see it happening. While teleworking is not a silver bullet, it targets the demand side of the equation. If enough people did it, we could possibly reduce prices across the board and send a message to oil producers and oil companies alike.
Telecommuting is not new. In fact many CEOs take a day off each week and work at home. They need time to think and so do you. So talk to your boss about working from home a couple of days a week. See what companies are allowing employees to telework.
Many in the private and public sector telecommute a few days a week already. They either work from home or go to a telework center. Teleworking is ideal for office workers who do most of their work by phone and computer and in cases where a specific work product can be identified. You still may have to come into the office, but only for face-to-face meetings.
Some federal agencies like the US Patent & Trademark office allow some of their analyst to work 4 out of 5 days at home. These analysts research patents and trademarks using computers so telework makes sense. Some employees come into the office one day a week for meetings.
How much you can save?
The savings are significant. Here's an example of teleworking 4 days a week. If you live 50 miles away from the office, you'll save having to drive 400 miles and 12.5 hours of commuting time. If you get 20 miles per gallon, you'll won't consume 20 gallons of gasoline and have an extra $69.40 in your pocket each week. [based on average gasoline prices in the New York City area].
Given the savings in time and money, you're more likely to get more done at home too. Just think, no interruptions, boring and unnecessary meetings, and most of all you'll have time to think.
What about the environment?
Environmentally teleworking makes sense too. A recent study in January 2008 found that telework could:
- Reduce Gulf oil imports by 24 to 48%,
- Reduce greenhouse gases by up to 67 million metric tons a year, and
- Save as much as 7.5 trillion gallons of gasoline each year. That's a saving of $110 million a day.
Your Home Office
If you are going to telework you need a place to work. It should be free from the kids, pets and other distractions. We suggest designating a special room or spare bedroom for this purpose. The kitchen table is not the ideal place.
Remember, if your boss allows you to telework, they expect to see a work product when your come in to the office and to be available if contacted via email or telephone.
Ideally, you should be prepared to set up a home office. This space is alslo for paying bills, doing taxes, and looking over finances.
You'll also need the following kinds of office equipment:
- A high speed internet connection if you don't already have one,
- A cell phone or land telephone line,
- A computer work station or laptop computer,
- A good desk
- A comfortable chair with good lumbar support, and
- Access to your office files via an extranet.
A fast internet connection and good computer are highn on the list is your job involves conducting research over the Internet. Some employers will allow you to check out laptop computers if you need one, while others will require you to provide your own. See our article for tips on what to look for in a laptop computer
You'll also need Spyware and anti-virus software. Your IT department can advise you on this.