I certainly would not take this to mean that the guy who whiles away his work hours at the office giggling at lolcats will become a work dynamo if he logs in to the office from his apartment. There's something to be said for hiring the right kind of employees, setting expectations, and managing them properly.
2. Telecommuting programs save companies money. There's cash to be saved from letting employees work remotely -- and not just because you can get away with purchasing fewer pounds of coffee to energize bleary-eyed workers each morning. You're also looking at reduced expenses on office supplies, electricity, and real estate, not to mention reduced absenteeism. According to the Telework Advisory Group of WorldatWork, employers can realize an annual per-employee savings of $5,000 through telecommuting.
Much of those savings come from lower real-estate costs: Telecommuting creates an opportunity to consolidate offices (helpful during these tough economic times) or postpone expansion. For example, AT&T reports savings of $3,000 per office, for approximately $550 million, by eliminating or consolidating office space. Meanwhile, about 25 percent of IBM's 320,000 workers worldwide telecommute, saving Big Blue some $700 million in real estate costs.
There's also savings to be reaped from reduced absenteeism. According to Nortel, the costs of just outfitting and equipping an employee for telecommuting can be made up in the first year if just 3.5 days away from work can be saved (e.g. being able to work from while taking care of a sick child, nursing a cold, or other events that might otherwise force an employee to take a day off). The number drops to 1.5 days for each subsequent year.
Finally, there's the easy-to-overlook economic (and societal) benefit of reducing traffic congestion, which is already a problem for big cities and worsening in smaller cities, as well as some rural areas. "The total cost of traffic congestion to the U.S. economy in lost productivity and wasted motor fuel is almost $68 billion -- or $1,160 per traveler," according to the Texas Transportation Institute's annual study to quantify traffic congestion.
Telecommuting can offset that. "For every one percent reduction in the number of cars on the road there's a three percent reduction in traffic congestion," according to John Edwards, chairman and founder of the Telework Coalition.
3. Telecommuting benefits the environment. With the effects of global climate change already evident, companies are feeling pressure from customers, business partners, and legislators to be better environmental stewards. Implementing telecommuting programs is a great way for an organization to rack up green points, both with the public and with employees, while giving Mother Nature a break.