A Telemanager’s Index: The Definitive Roundup of Telecommuting Statistics – a template for telecommuting contracts is provided – Industry Trend or Event

June Langhoff

Your boss still won’t let you let your people work from home? Here’s the ultimate array of convincing arguments and documented facts

Allowing workers to telecommute can be a win-win situation for telemanagers and their talented employees. Indeed, as some companies’ results show, a well-implemented telework program can be a win-win-win situation, because the community as a whole prospers too. If upper management is still reluctant to green-light your telecommuting plan, state your case with this grab bag of good news and bottom-line arguments.

Advantages for the Organization

Improved recruiting: In a 1997 information management survey, the staffing services company Olsten Corp. learned that one-third of companies with telecommuting programs use them to attract qualified employees. Long-distance relationships also avoid the costs of relocation, estimated at as much as $80,000 per employee.

Increased employee retention: Companies with telecommuting programs find their employees are less likely to leave for greener pastures. A 1997 AT&T survey of active telecommuters revealed that 36 percent would quit or find another home-based job if their employer decided they could no longer work at home. A similar study by the Families and Work Institute revealed that more than one-third (35 percent) of employees with children under the age of 15 say they would change jobs if they found one offering more flexible work arrangements.

Higher productivity: Both telecommuters and their managers report that workers get more accomplished when out of the office. In an AT&T-sponsored survey of Fortune 1000 telemanagers, 58 percent reported increased worker productivity. The state of California’s telecommuting pilot program measured productivity increases of 10 percent to 30 percent, and American Express tallied a 20 percent productivity gain for off-site call center employees.

Bottom-line savings: The payoff in real estate savings is impressive. Dr. Franklin Becker, a professor at Cornell University and co-author of Workplace by Design, says that 70 percent of desks, offices, and workstations are unoccupied or underoccupied during a typical workday. Telecommuting allows companies to consolidate office space.

For example, IBM’s telework plan has let Big Blue cut its U.S. real estate holdings by 22 million square feet–and save $50 million annually. And a facilities manager at Lucent Technologies estimates that for every dollar spent setting up a home office, the company saves $2 in real estate expenses. Even our federal government has jumped on the bandwagon; its plan to have roughly 3 percent of the federal workforce telecommuting by 2002 is expected to yield net taxpayer savings of $150 million annually. Finally, NCR experienced a net savings through its telework program of three times the program’s cost.

Reduced absenteeism: According to the 1996 Unscheduled Absence Survey by CCH Inc., absenteeism costs U.S. companies $603 per employee per year. The National Safety Council says that on an average workday, 1 million employees are absent from work because of stress-related problems.

By contrast, telecommuters can work from home when a minor illness or sick child keeps them from the office. Unisys found that its telecommuters take 33 percent less sick leave than other workers. Teleworkers at Holland America Westours take two fewer days off per year than their office colleagues.

Disaster preparedness: Telecommuters are a key factor in keeping companies going when disaster strikes. Within hours of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, teleworkers were conducting business, even though their office buildings were destroyed. Homeworkers kept many Eastern Seaboard companies open during the blizzard of 1996 and ice storms of early 1998, leading to record Internet traffic levels.

Advantages for the Employee

Lower stress: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), stress ranks as one of the top 10 reasons employees miss work. By working at home, employees avoid a stressful commute, as well as the noise and interruptions common in most office cubicles.

Increased flexibility: Telecommuters have more control over their time than their in-office counterparts. This lets them work at their peak energy times and adds flexibility to their overall day and schedules.

Saved time: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the average American worker spends anywhere from 42 minutes to one hour each day commuting to and from work.

Over the year, that’s the equivalent of almost six 40-hour workweeks. A typical commuter can gain nearly two “extra” weeks a year by telecommuting.

More cash: Telecommuters’ home expenses do go up a bit, mostly in the areas of higher communications and utility costs. However, they save on commuting costs, office clothes, dry cleaning, and downtown lunch expenses. In addition, DOT says the average round-trip automobile commute in the U.S. is 23 miles. If gasoline costs $1.05 a gallon and the employee telecommutes only two days a week, he or she should save approximately $100 in gas each year. Telecommuters working in densely trafficked urban areas save far more.

Advantages for the Community

Cleaner air: Environmental Protection Agency figures indicate that if just 10 percent of the nation’s workforce telecommuted just one day a week, Americans would conserve more than 1.2 million gallons of fuel per week.

Similarly, if only one in 100 American car owners left his or her wheels in the garage one day a week, it would save an estimated 42 million gallons of gas per year. And in addition to conserving energy, we could breathe a little easier: A 90-minute round-trip commute pumps nine pounds of carbon monoxide and 45 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air every day.

Reduced global warming: Automobiles and light trucks emit 20 percent of the U.S.’s fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide ([CO.sub.2])–a key contributor to the greenhouse effect. A typical car gives off 20 pounds of [CO.sub.2] for every gallon of gas consumed.

Closer community ties: Not only do teleworkers find they are able to spend more time with their families, many homeworkers spend part of the time they once spent commuting participating in community service coaching Little League games, tutoring kids at the library, planting a community garden, or reading to seniors.


The Road Information Program of the Transportation Construction Coalition issues an annual report of the cities with the worst rush-hour traffic in the nation. They are:

1. Washington, D.C.

2. San Francisco/Oakland

3. New York

4. Los Angeles

5. Phoenix

6. Seattle

7. Houston

8. Chicago

9. San Bernardino/Riverside

10. Miami

Traffic congestion has ballooned from 41 percent of all urban interstates in 1975 to 69 percent in 1993, costing our 50 largest urban areas an estimated $43 billion annually in lost time and other expenses,

Source: American Association of State Highways


The State of California suggests you use this form as a possible template for your written agreements with teleworking employees.

Telecommuting is an arrangement that — (Employer) may choose to make available to some employees when a mutually beneficial situation exists. These are the conditions for telecommuting agreed upon by the telecommuter and his/her supervisor. This arrangement can be terminated by either the employee or employer at any time.

1. The employee agrees to work at the following location (hereafter referred to as the Telecenter): —

2. The employee will telecommute — days per week, or as scheduled/needed.

3. The employee’s work hours will be as follows: —

4. The assignments the employee will work on at the Telecenter and their expected delivery dates are as follows: —

5. The following equipment will be used by the employee at the Telecenter: —

6. The following software will be used by the employee at the Telecenter: —

7. The arrangement for payment of telephone calls/data transfer made by the employee from the Telecenter for Company business is: —

8. The employee has read and understands all company policies regarding telecommuting.

9. Additional conditions agreed upon by the telecommuter and the telemanager are as follows: —

I have reviewed the above materials with my telemanager prior to working at the Telecenter.

Telecommuter signature and date: —

I have discussed the above materials with my telecommuter. Telemanager signature and date: —

June Langhoff promotes telecommuting and other remote work styles at her Web site, www.langhoff.com.

COPYRIGHT 1999 CURTCO Freedom Communications

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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