Telecommuting has received a burst of media attention. It is increasingly clear that telecommuting is more varied, more common and more beneficial than commonly perceived. Here’s what research shows about the benefits of telecommuting for both employers and employees.
In this series of articles on telework, I will highlight the work of researchers, company best practices, and the experiences of telecommuting employees. This first article focuses on the benefits of telecommuting as found in two recent reputable studies.
According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in partnership with Cisco, telecommuting is good for employers and employees. Specifically, a large sample of Cisco employees who telecommuted at least part-time reported:
- 83% said their ability to communicate and collaborate with workers was the same, if not better, as when they worked on-site.
- 75% said the timeliness of their work improved.
- 69% reported higher productivity. Sixty percent of the time they saved via telecommuting they applied to work; the other 40 percent they applied to personal use.
- 67% of workers said the overall quality of their work improved.
Further, 63% of Cisco’s managers supervise more than one teleworking employee, meaning that, at least at this leading company, telecommuting is common and can be competently managed.
The typical Cisco employee telecommutes two days per week; on average, these employees travel 60 miles less per week than they would on a traditional schedule. This saves considerable time and cost, and has environmental benefits–an estimated $10.3 million saved on gas, preventing the release of about 47,320 metric tons of emissions.
Finally, 91% percent of employees surveyed considered telecommuting important to them, and 80%credited it with improving their quality of life. Win-win solutions all around.
Telework Research Network Study
The State of Telework in the U.S. study authored by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish of the Telework Research Network, which utilized data from the US Census Bureau, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and World at Work’s recent surveys of Fortune 500 employers, concludes that employers and employees would benefit from increasing availability to telecommuting.
Specifically, this study estimates that if 50 million more workers telecommuted at least part time, US businesses would gain the following benefits:
Save $170 billion in real estate and related costs (assuming a 20% reduction)
Save $28 billion in absenteeism (25% reduction) and turnover (10% reduction)
Improve continuity of operations (for example, when snowstorms keep employees home)
- Reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint
Improve work-life balance and better address the needs of families, parents, and senior caregivers
Avoid the ‘brain drain’ effect of retiring Boomers by allowing them to work flexibly
Be able to recruit and retain the best people
- Experience hundreds of billions of cost savings and productivity increases
Further, individuals who telecommute would:
Achieve a better work-life balance
Recoup almost a week of free time per year—time they’d have otherwise spent commuting
Save $2,000-$6,700/year, on transportation costs
Experience other savings, including daycare and eldercare costs or reduced car insurance premiums
Suffer fewer illnesses
The data are in. The results are clear, and they’re spectacular. When done right, telecommuting is a win-win for employers and employees.
Stay tuned for future entries to this series, including “debunking telecommuting myths,” “what jobs lend themselves to telecommuting,” “personal experiences of telecommuters,” and “perspectives from the managers of telecommuters.”
What do you think about the benefits of telecommuting? Any experiences to share? let’s discuss in the comments section.
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