Case in point: Through Sun's telecommute program, called Sun Open Work Practice, around 2,800 employees work home three to five days a week; another 14,219 work remotely twice weekly, according to reports. The company says its efforts have resulted not only in 29,000 fewer tons of CO2 emissions -- but the company reaped $63 million in the last fiscal year by cutting 6,660 office seats.
Meanwhile, AT&T reports savings of $3,000 per office, for approximately $550 million, by eliminating or consolidating office space; about 25 percent of IBM's 320,000 workers worldwide telecommute, saving Big Blue some $700 million in real estate costs, according to the CTA.
Business benefits of letting workers do their jobs remotely don't stop with lower office space costs: Plenty of studies have demonstrated that telecommuters are more productive than their at-office counterparts. Conservative estimates suggest a 10 percent advantage. The Colorado Telework Coalition reports, however, that American Express's teleworkers produce 43 percent more business than employees at the office; Compaq teleworkers were found to be between 15 percent and 45 percent more productive than their office counterparts.
Relieve gas pains and congestion
From a broad environmental perspective, the potential gas savings alone from telecommuting are impressive. According to the 2005/2006 National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS), we could save about 1.35 billion gallons of fuel if everyone who was able to telecommute did so just 1.6 days per week. That calculation is based on a driving average of 20 miles per day, getting 21 miles per gallon.
So if those of us who could telecommute did so, we'd spare our pocketbooks from gas and vehicular maintenance (a typical household spends 18 percent of its income in driving costs – more than it spends on food, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
We'd also spare our collective sanity with shorter, faster commutes, which are only expected to get worse as congestion worsens. Between 2002 and 2012, vehicle miles traveled by drive-alone commuters is expected to increase by at least 15 percent, generating an additional 43 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and EPA calculations.
Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration reports that "[t]he volume of freight movement alone is forecast to nearly double by 2020. Congestion is largely thought of as a big city problem, but delays are becoming increasingly common in small cities and some rural areas as well."