13 arguments for telecommuting

I thought I’d put together this list of arguments you could use to make the case for telecommuting at your workplace. No, there’s nothing special about the number 13. That’s how many reasons I came up with. If you know of more, please let me know and I’ll be glad to publish them here.

First, I should say I’m all for telecommuting, and I think it’s unfair to make people come into work when most jobs — in particular tech jobs — can be readily converted (with little or no effort) to allow employees to work from their homes.

Reduced office space

Leased office space can be less (significantly less) when employees are allowed to telecommute, since most people won’t need dedicated offices at company headquarters. All that’s needed are offices for the employees that need to be there: phone operators, receptionists, facilities, help desk, and meeting rooms. You’ll need the latter because employees will probably need to come in for meetings or other tasks that need to be performed on-site once a week or every two weeks. In addition, sales folks may need to come in to meet with clients, etc. An unexpected benefit will be that you’ll actually be using the conference rooms a lot more than before. Management will be happy, since the space they’re paying for will be well utilized.

Reduced business utilities

Utilities and other bills, like communications, will be much, much less. With most of the workforce staying at home, and much less office space, electricity usage will be slashed. None of those things that really rack up the bills, like A/C, computers and lights will be anywhere near their previous figures. People will use IM and video conferencing tools (like Skype) to communicate with each other, and will use home phones when needed. You’ll be able to ditch expensive phone system, or scale them down significantly.

Less crowding during rush hour

Businesses that allow their employees to telecommute are doing a greater good. They’re directly contributing to solving today’s serious traffic problems. When employees don’t need to come into work, they stay home and their cars stay in the garage, not on the streets, clogging up avenues and highways, causing traffic delays and accidents. Let’s not also forget the added benefits of burning up less fossil fuels.

Less pollution

When cars stay in the garage, there’s less pollution. I’m not just talking about greenhouse gases, I’m talking about traffic noise as well. Those of you who live near busy streets know this.

Contribute to national security efforts

Businesses that allow employees to telecommute are indirectly contributing to the safety of our country, by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The less gas employees burn driving to work, the less gas that we’ll need to purchase from countries that finance terrorism. That’s always a good thing. And police and fire trucks will have an easier time driving on our streets during rush hour with less cars on the roads.

Less stress for everyone

I don’t know about you but traffic is very stressful. Sitting in traffic, knowing you can’t go anywhere and you’re stuck there, sandwiched in between other cars, puts one in a very helpless mood. Don’t even get me started on how much time is wasted on commutes, because that’s completely ridiculous and unnecessary. And let’s not forget the people who are actually trying to go shopping or must make it to an event during rush hour. They’re stuck in there too, and they’re not going to work.

Higher job satisfaction

Wasted time makes productive people unhappy. Time and energy gets wasted in traffic. Hence, allowing employees to work from home makes them happy. It’s logical, isn’t it? Besides, I don’t need to analyze things to know that if I could sit at my computer in the morning, right after having breakfast, and get right to work, instead of having to find clothes, get in the car, waste my time on the road, get out of the car and settle in my office, I’d be a lot happier. Why go through all that when I’ve got everything I need right at home?

Less expenses for employees

What do we spend on gas every month? C’mon, add it up! I spend about $100, but I’m one of the luckier ones, because I only have a 25 mile round-trip commute. I’m sure other people spend more. And we’re not even counting the wear and tear on our cars. And how would we value the time we waste in traffic, time that could be spent working productively? I suppose we could calculate our hourly rate, then come up with a total for the time wasted on the road.

Less expenses per employee (business-wise)

Managers, count up the costs to get an employee in a chair at your place. Add in furniture, supplies and equipment (and make sure to include the computer as well). Well, now slash all those costs by about 70%. Happier? An employee that works from home won’t need an office, won’t need a phone, won’t need a desk or a chair or a bookcase or a filing cabinet or even a computer. Okay, there might be some leeway with the computer. You could let them sign out company equipment if you desire, or sponsor the whole or part of the cost of a computer, considering that they’ll use it for work now in addition to their home chores. And you might need to supply them with work-related software as well. But think about it, all of the other costs will go away. When employees come in, they can use terminals set up in the conference rooms, or bring their own laptops. And they’ll use common desks set up near conference rooms to do work that needs to be done at work, not dedicated offices.

Improved management practices

When employees telecommute, work becomes objective and goal-oriented for everyone. It has to, in order for telecommuting to work. Employees get treated as adults instead of babies that need to be micromanaged. Clear monthly and weekly objectives get set, and employees produce status reports or track their objectives online. When tracking is enabled, it’s easy to see who performs and who doesn’t perform. Non-performers can be let go. This is efficient management. Employees are enabled to do what they need to do, and the good ones will go out there and do it.

More family time

Those of you who are married or have significant others, let me ask you this: if you had two hours a day, extra, would you spend them in traffic, or would you spend them with the person you love? That’s an easy answer, right? So okay, you don’t have a spouse. Wouldn’t you rather pursue a hobby or read a book rather than waste your time in traffic?

Safety, safety, safety

People without time constraints are more laid back when they drive. When you work from home, you don’t need to rush into work. This means we’ll have less aggressive drivers on the streets, and our lifestyles will be more relaxed on the whole. Businesses who allow their employees to telecommute are indirectly decreasing the number of accidents and costly traffic tickets.

No more workplace annoyances

This may be more of a pet peeve of mine than anyone else’s, but I’d rather use the bathroom at home than the one at work. I don’t want to go to the bathroom and see (or smell) someone else in there. Why? Because people are disgusting. I want to be able to relax, at home, in my own bathroom, where I’m not in danger of contracting other people’s germs or be subjected to other people’s gross bathroom habits. I’m sure there are plenty of things that annoy you about your own workplace or co-workers, so we probably don’t need to get started down that path. Well, wouldn’t you be happier if you could see less of those annoying people, and only deal with them through email, from time to time? I thought so.

Hope this helps you make the case for telecommuting at your own workplace. Or, that it helps business managers realize the value of this wonderful practice, which is a fantastic way to attract motivated and valuable employees to one’s organization.