Encouraging Telecommuting

17 Jan

According to the newest American Community Survey data, just over 2% of the U.S. employee workforce (2.8 million people, not including the self-employed or unpaid volunteers) considers home their primary place of work.

Estimates of how many people telecommute and how often they do vary, but it is estimated that 20 to 30 million people currently work from home at least one day a week. 15 to 20 million are road warriors / mobile workers; 10 to 15 million are home businesses; 15 to 20 million work at home part time (with about half doing so 1-2 days a week; and about 3 million are based at home full time (including self-employed). (Telework Research Network) The number of Americans who worked from home or remotely at least one day per month for their employer increased from approximately 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008 — a 39% 2-year increase and 74% increase since 2005. (WorldatWork Telework Trendlines 2009)

According to a recent Grist article, Nicole Belson Goluboff, a lawyer who writes frequently on telecommuting, has a number of proposals that would promote working from home, including tax breaks for workers and employees. One of her proposals would require states to promote telework in order to qualify for transportation infrastructure funding. She writes in New Geography:

By reducing the demand for roads and mass transit, telecommuting minimizes the cost of repair, maintenance and expansion of such infrastructure. Before the federal government subsidizes state and local transportation investments, the funding recipients should be compelled to mitigate costs by promoting telework.

The Telework Research Network estimates that if 40 percent of the American work force worked from home half the time, it could save the country’s businesses $700 billion annually — and result in a 50 million ton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It could also mean 1,500 fewer traffic deaths each year.

What do you think, On the Move readers? Do you ever telecommute, and if so, how often?

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