Feature Story

Productive and Profitable: Taking the Telework Pledge

by Kirsten Chiala

A look at how companies and employees are benefitting from the Telework Movement.

Turn off the alarm and get out of bed, check. Crank up the coffee pot, check. Sit in traffic for an hour on the way to work? Not this week. Thousands of people across the country are giving up the commute, and working from home as part of their pledge to telecommute this week. It’s part of Telework Week 2013, promoted by The Mobile Work Exchange and sponsored by Cisco, which champions the work anywhere, anytime mentality for today’s mobile employee. The week is part of a yearly push to get people to telecommute. And the movement is growing. This year about 110,000 people pledged to work from home. With more highly connected employees, and solutions that allow people to work anywhere, the International Data Corporation projects 37% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2015.

An interesting twist to Telework week this year is the timing of a major policy change at Yahoo. CEO Marissa Mayer told her employees they could no longer work from home starting in June. The announcement generated waves of controversy, and ended up being woven into a point of discussion about Telework week. Just check out the headline last week on emails from the Mobile Work Exchange, which read, “Smart Thinking or a Bunch of Yahoo?” The emails pointed out employees gain productivity not sitting in traffic, and flexible policies help companies boost morale and recruit top talent.

From Cisco’s point of view, telecommuting saves the average employee 79 hours of commuting each year. That’s 5.5 million hours across Cisco! Sheila Jordan, senior vice president of Communication and IT Collaboration at Cisco, wrote in a post last week, “Our success depends on our ability to collaborate effectively from different locations.” Jordan points out, Cisco’s own technology allows a global team to collaborate and it’s not about where you work, but the results that are produced. And it turns out Cisco is getting results. The company’s remote and mobile workers actually have higher job performance ratings.

Yahoo’s decision won’t affect the federal government’s support of teleworking either. Nine of ten pledges for Telework week are from federal agencies. Many of them use the week, as a way to stress test their systems. When disaster strikes, they may be able to keep critical services up and running if their workforce doesn’t have to physically report to the office. Last fall, when Hurricane Sandy walloped the East Coast, the Office of Personnel Management says about one third of the D.C. region’s federal employees were actually able to telework during the two days the government shut down during the storm.

Another top reason for telecommuting: the life/work balance. One of the more inspiring stories is from a woman named Dawn Clamors of St. Louis, Missouri who works for the USDA as a systems analyst. She has stage two breast cancer and says teleworking has been a blessing. She works from home on chemo days, the day after, and when she has doctor appointments. Clamors says, “Teleworking allows me to save my leave so I can use it when I have surgery in June. It also allows me to keep up with work.” The USDA offers regular teleworking to its employees. Mika Cross, a Work/Life and Wellness Program Manager at the USDA says, “It’s a cost savings in terms of transit subsidies and office space, and a way to offer workers flexibility and support in their personal lives.”

Here’s more food for thought. People who pledge to work from home this week will avoid using more than 530,000 gallons of gas and the average teleworker will save an average of $75 by not commuting. The Mobile Work Exchange has a calculator to check the financial and environmental impacts of commuting versus working from home.

The numbers can add up quickly. I discovered by working from home two days a week and not doing my roughly 30 mile round trip drive in San Jose, I’m saving about $2,250 a year, and preventing 1.3 tons of pollutants from my car. Not to mention, I’m less stressed when I don’t have to sit in traffic, and I have more time to focus on assignments like this one. To make the pledge to telecommute this week, click here.


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