October 11, 2009
How much money could working from home save you?
A lot, says Kate Lister, co-author with Tom Harnish of Undress for Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home and principal researcher at the Telework Research Network.
Aggregating the latest U.S. Census American Community Survey figures and data from more than a dozen studies, Lister developed something called the Telework Savings Calculator. This free online tool lets you calculate what you, your employer, city, county, congressional district, or state could save through telecommuting.
"Only 4.1 percent of the U.S. workforce currently telecommutes the majority of the time, but 40 percent hold jobs that could be done from home," Lister said. On average, she added, employees who work from home do so about 50 percent of the time.
According to Lister's research, in the Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue area, 5.05 percent of the workforce telecommuted the majority of the time in 2008 (in 2007, that figure was 4.76 percent). If all workers in the region who have jobs that can be done from home telecommuted just half of the time, she said, our region would see the following changes:
Each employee would save $2,500 to $11,000 in transportation and work-related costs a year.
Each employee would gain back almost three weeks in commute time each year.
Businesses would collectively save $2.3 billion a year in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and turnover costs.
Productivity would soar, collectively earning our region's businesses $2.4 billion more a year.
Each year, 2,000 people would be spared from traffic-related injury or death. What's more, $215 million a year would be saved in accident-related costs.
Two billion fewer miles would be driven each year. As a result, communities would save more than $36 million a year in highway maintenance costs.
The region would save 5.4 million barrels of oil.
The environment would be spared from 997,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year -- the equivalent of taking 181,000 cars off the road.
Because everyone's commute and work-related costs differ, Lister built a customization feature into the Telework Savings Calculator. Employees using the tool can modify the amount of money they spend on expenses such as parking and workday lunches to come up with a more accurate total of how much they stand to save by telecommuting. Likewise, employers can factor in company-specific operational costs, such as utilities and employee turnover, to see how much sending their workers home could improve their bottom line.
At the very least, this unique tool may give you some new ideas about how telework could help save you or your company additional money.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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