5 Economic Benefits When Workers Telecommute
From Reduction in Greenhouse Gases to Saving Billions of Dollars Each Year - There are HUGE National Economic Benefits When Workers Work Remote
When Covid-19 hit the scene in 2020, it forced employers into a corner. Either they became flexible with their work arrangements, or they allowed their production to flat line. We can argue on either side of the fence the pros and cons of this hostage situation, but at the end of the day, there inarguably were both pros and cons.
For many employees, one of the biggest pros was the ability to work remotely. Suddenly, lifetime dreams of sleeping an extra hour instead of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic were granted. Employees cheered to the ability to throw in a load of laundry during their work breaks instead of having to squeeze in weekday chores before bed. Our cholesterol levels decreased as we made lunch from the comfort of our own kitchens instead of going through the drive-thru (again) during another stressful and uncomfortable day in that freezing office cubicle.
Even better, we maintained (at times even increased) our production which brought a smile to our boss’s face (and presumably, to their boss’s face as well).
Why then, in spite of the boost to employee morale and the good production levels, are employers insisting on forcing employees back into their frosty cubicle farms?
We already know higher employee morale is great for employers, and businesses could save a fortune on overhead costs by keeping workers remote. So, what is this? A power play?
If happy employees, good production rates, and thousands of dollars in savings from overhead costs isn’t enough to convince employers working remote is the answer — what about national economic benefits?
That’s why I’m here: to save the day.
Below, I’ve listed five economic benefits that occur when workers telecommute (you’re welcome).
1. TELECOMMUTING COULD SAVE U.S. OVER $700 BILLION A YEAR
You read that correct. According to Global Workplace Analytics (2021), 50% of the workforce hold telework-compatible jobs and 79% of the workforce want to work at home (duh!), but better yet, if these workers worked at home only half of the time, the economic benefit would total over $700 billion a year.
To calculate this, they used something called a “Telework Savings Calculator” which took in account costs for real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover, productivity, utilities, janitorial services, security, maintenance, paper goods, coffee, water service, leased parking spaces, transit subsidies, ADA compliance, environmental penalties, equipment, furniture, and office supplies (whew! That’s A LOT!).
In return, consumers would gain back 2–3 WEEKS of free time per year, which is time they would have otherwise spent commuting, and between $2,000 and $7,000 in transportation and work-related costs.
Oh, did I mention they also would save $20 billion at the pumps while cutting after-school costs.
2. GREENHOUSE GASES WOULD BE REDUCED BY 54 MILLION TONS
Remember the pictures of the empty freeways March of 2020? If you were an essential employee, like myself, you may have even enjoyed the wind blowing in your hair while you drove freely on those open highways. Well, it could stay like that, and a huge reduction in traffic jams wouldn’t be the only benefit. We would also greatly reduce air pollution.
We all talk about climate change and global warming, and all the various things that can be done to reduce greenhouse gases. Yet, here we are with a real solution right at our fingertips: Remote Work.
Again, looking at our friend’s research at Global Workplace Analytics, if the workforce that has telework-compatible jobs worked from home just 50% of the time, we could reduce greenhouse gases by 54 million tons, which is the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road for a year (2021).
Imagine doubling that by having all telework-compatible jobs working from home? And why shouldn’t they? Seriously, why in the Hell shouldn’t they?
3. REDUCE INFRASTRUCTURE AND HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE COSTS
Besides jammed up freeways, one of the most common sights I see on the road is road-maintenance. In fact, they’re out there right now busily working away to add a few lanes to one of our freeways right now. It’s just not large enough to handle the morning and evening traffic during the weekdays. In addition, even when they aren’t busily trying to expand existing freeways or build new freeways, the roads are so busy they require constant maintenance. In fact, we’ve seen recent state and federal tax increases specifically aimed at infrastructure.
Is it possible there’s a better way to approach the situation?
Instead of continuing to use precious real estate to build new highways, have we thought about reducing the cars? How in the world could we do that? Oh, that’s right. We could have our employees work remote! That alone could save our communities millions of dollars in highway maintenance.
4. REDUCING OIL IMPORTS BY OVER 50%
If you’re noticing a trend, it’s because there is one. When workers work from home, there’s less cars on the road, which means less traffic, which means less wear and tear on the freeways, and also less air pollution and gas consumption. I like to think of it as a huge circle of happiness where we can all hold hands and sing kumbaya as the days of the cubicle farms are laid to rest for eternity.
According to Performance Enhancements, Inc. (2017), if the workforce that has telework-compatible jobs worked from home just 50% of the time we would reduce oil imports by over 50%, which in 2017 was almost 300 million barrels. However, according to Global Workplace Analytics (2021) this would now calculate to over 640 million barrels of oil (or 37% of Persian Gulf imports) valued at over $64 billion.
5. COULD BE THE SOLUTION TO THE HOUSING SHORTAGE
I read an article recently about all the vacant office buildings in San Francisco. It mentioned this was also the case for other cities. I rolled my eyes as I read because, as a mortgage underwriter, I’m well aware of the housing shortage crisis in these cities. These office buildings are not necessary, as proven by the Covid-19 pandemic. These employees are fully capable of working remotely, as they have been for almost two years now.
It seems beyond comprehension that our local and federal government officials would lack the ability to recognize there’s an easy solution: incentivize businesses to keep employees working remote (therefore enjoying all the aforementioned economic benefits) and convert empty office buildings into residential buildings as a solution to the housing shortage.
I know we’re talking about politicians, but somewhere within that hollow head there must be a neural circuit lying around.
Seriously, write your representatives. Put the pressure on, and be sure to share the benefits with your job (didn’t they claim they cared about the environment; was that just a publicity sham?).
There are so many benefits to employees working remote. There are benefits for the employees, for the employer, and for the economy in whole. If the job is telecommute-compatible, there truly is no logical reason why we shouldn’t, in this day and age, be moving in that direction.