Reducing Your Professional Carbon Footprint
Working from home. For many it sounds like a dream come true, and it is certainly a priority for many. In fact, in a recent compensation survey of 1,400 CFOs conducted by Robert Half International, 46% said telecommuting is second only to salary as the best way to attract top talent. For those of us who do it on a regular basis (myself included), it offers many conveniences but also many challenges. Some of those challenges include: finding a dedicated space, freeing yourself from distractions, “proving” to your co-workers that you are actually productive, and finding a way to put limits on your working hours.
However, even when you set the challenges aside, telecommuting is incredibly effective for many 20th century knowledge workers. With costs of physical workspaces at an all-time high and 30 – 40% of workspaces at an office vacant at any given time, telecommuting also provides potential for significant cost reduction. For example, a proposed model for 4,400-employee facility located in New York estimated a cost savings of $8.1 million per year.
Aside from cost savings and convenience, promoting a telecommuting policy can also contribute significantly to a company’s sustainability initiatives. With commuting making up 10-20% of an individual’s carbon footprint, telecommuting can result in a 3-6% reduction in carbon emissions, and that’s only on a part-time schedule. With buildings accounting for 39% of US carbon emissions each year, even small efficiencies in workspace utilization can add up to major environmental benefits.
As I mentioned above, telecommuting does have its challenges. It requires a dedicated commitment from company management, and in larger organizations it requires close coordination with HR, Real Estate/Operations, and IT departments to make sure that employees have the appropriate technology, management, and physical workspace support that they need to accomplish their jobs with maximum productivity. But it’s so important that even government workplaces have made the commitment to support it: in November 2010, President Obama signed the Telework Act and mandated that government agencies must develop policies on telework by April 2011.
Teleworking is not a solution for everyone. But it is a great solution for many, providing a way to cut costs, boost employee morale and promote a greener workplace. For more information about the government’s efforts on telework, visit http://www.telework.gov/