How Telecommuting Can Save the Planet

How much did you travel last year? I imagine if you sat down and really thought about it, the answer would surprise you.

Here are some numbers to help you along:

• The average American (aged 25 to 54) spends 64 minutes per day in the car, which equates to about 35 miles per person, per day.

• The average commuter spends the equivalent of an entire work week stuck in traffic each year.

• Collectively, Americans drive about 250 billion miles per month.

• Last year, Americans pumped 169.9 billion gallons of gas and bought 815.3 million airplane tickets.

Every mile we travel impacts the environment. Another way to look at it is that every minute we don’t travel but can be productive from anywhere, also impacts the environment. Here at Avaya, many of the products we produce are designed to help companies lessen their impact on the planet–by reducing the number of unnecessary, work-related trips we make each day and more efficiently using the infrastructure that powers critical business functions.

On Nov. 20, I’m attending the United Nations’ Climate Action Sustainable Innovation Forum in Poland to talk about how technology is helping companies reduce their impact on the environment. I’m excited to be able to share real-world examples of Avaya customers who are already reducing their environmental footprint while improving their bottom line:

• In Australia, a tech company estimates that software-enabled collaboration via the Avaya Flare® Experience will help them save $35,000 per person, per year in travel costs and increase productivity by 30 percent.

• In Texas, a law firm was able to reduce its office space footprint from 17,000 square feet to 2,200 square feet, (saving about $60,000 per year in operating costs) by encouraging their 30 employees to regularly work from home part-time.

• A U.S.-based shipping and logistics company with multiple offices around the country estimates that they’re saving $40,000 to $60,000 per year in conventional, in-person training costs by setting up virtual offices for their contact center agents and other staff members. In addition to the tremendous cost savings, they’re experiencing a 300 percent increase in home agent productivity.

The benefits of remote work have been well-documented.

It’s estimated that 3.3 million Americans telecommute full-time, representing a little more than 2.5 percent of the total workforce, according to Global Workplace Analytics. The research group estimates that half of Americans are working jobs that are compatible with telecommuting. Teleworkers are, on average, 15- to 20 percent more productive than their colleagues at the office, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

Global Workplace Analytics estimates that if every American with a telecommuting-compatible job worked from home just one day week, the country would save 2.3 million barrels of oil, or 423,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (the equivalent of taking 77,000 cars off the road for a year).

What does your company stand to gain by exploring better ways to work? Share your experiences in the comments section below.