Can Telecommuting Benefit Your Business?

by Marcos Cordero on October 13, 2011
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Although many companies remain reluctant to offer telecommuting to their employees, there is growing evidence of the benefit from flexible working arrangements for the environment and for your business. The Telework Research Network estimates that telecommuting has the potential to eliminate over 51 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year in the U.S. alone (reducing total emissions from personal vehicles by over 15 percent), while also improving worker productivity and lowering operating costs.

Has your business considered a telecommuting option for its employees? Though off-site work may not be appropriate for every job, many companies are finding that telecommuting provides many great business advantages.

As one example, Green Business Bureau member FlexJobs is a leading job service for hand-screened and professional flexible, part-time, telecommuting, and freelance job listings. As a sustainability-focused company, Flexjobs seeks to promote positions that allow people to work in environmentally responsible ways. In line with its business vision, all FlexJobs employees are telecommuters working from home offices.

One of the most significant business advantages to this approach has been low operational costs. FlexJobs founder Sara Sutton Fell notes, “Not having office space to eat/cool/construct/clean/maintain certainly decreases costs along with our carbon footprint. Because we are an almost-paperless office, our printing costs are virtually zero.”

Management fear and mistrust has been cited as one of the most significant barriers to increasing the number of telecommuters in the U.S., and Sutton Fell recognizes that challenge. With a small business team of 16 employees throughout the United States and Europe, Sutton Fell has found, “With such a flexible workforce, it’s important to trust that our employees will make the decisions that are right for them and for the environment.”

As part of building that trust, all Flexjobs staff have pledged to work as green as possible in their home offices by implementing waste reduction, energy conservation, and indoor air quality initiatives. This can include home improvements like replacing incandescent light bulbs with high-efficiency CFL or LED lighting, eliminating air leaks around windows and doorways, and purchasing only recycled paper and other office products. It also can involve changes in habit, like making sure lights are turned off when not in use, choosing natural lighting and ventilation whenever possible, and using fans or layered clothing to reduce reliance on heat and air conditioning. All of this not only has resulted in greener business practices, but also has had the effect of lowering employees’ home utility bills.

Whether your business is looking for new ways to lower operating expenses, is seeking to improve employee productivity and retention, or is aspiring to operate more sustainably by reducing your ecological footprint, telecommuting can be a great opportunity for you to explore. If your business model isn’t appropriate for a full-time telecommuting structure, consider the benefits of other flexible working strategies, such as partial telecommuting or telecommuting for selected job positions.

Flexjobs’ experience shows that with the right approach, a small business can successfully implement telecommuting, and it has the potential to offer you a more efficient, more productive, and more sustainable business.

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