Sun recently released some rather interesting data about the success of its Open Work Program, whereby employees work from home or a flexible office, either part-time or full. The findings further make a believer out of me that organizations, employees, and the planet as a whole can benefit from telecommuting programs.
[For more on the benefits of telecommuting, please read "Give telecommuting the green light."]
Sun found that its U.S. employees worked at home an average of 2.1 days per week in 2007. In doing so, they saved an average of $870 per year in gasoline (back when it was just $3.26 a gallon) and around $1,770 dollars in wear and tear on their car (by driving 3,700 fewer commute miles). They were also spared -- get this -- 104 hours of commute time, which translates to around two and half weeks. This is based on the finding that Sun U.S. employees have an average commute of 40 miles round-trip per day.
Presumably those savings make up for the fact that employees do need to pay a negligible amount -- less than $20 per year, according to Sun -- for the energy required to work from home, including heat.
Sun also found that employees used less energy at home than they do at the office. "Office equipment energy consumption rate at a Sun office was two times that of home office equipment energy consumption, from approximately 64 watts per hour at home to 130 watts per hour at a Sun office." Contributing to the difference: Office employees tend to use workstations and monitors while more home employees use laptops as well as Sun Ray thin clients, both of which require less power than traditional desktop PC/monitor combos.
If reducing your carbon footprint is a key goal for your organization, you might be interested in this nugget: Sun found that commuting contributed "more than 98 percent of each employee's carbon footprint for work, compared to less than 1.7 percent of total carbon emissions to power office equipment." The company says its 24,000 U.S. employees participating in the Open Work Program avoided producing 32,000 metric tons of CO2 last year by driving less often to and from work.
So what does Sun gain from offering its workers a Open Work Program? Beyond reducing its own carbon footprint and boosting employee morale, the company claims it saves nearly $68 million in real estate costs, as it needs fewer offices for its workers.
In case you're curious how Sun gathered this data, it had about 100 employees fill out a detailed survey about their home and office work configurations, their heating systems, their cars, and their commutes. The Sun also equipped employees with Kill-a-Watt meters to track their work-related energy consumption at home for a minimum of 30 continuous days.