AEI Outlook: Why Government Should Lead the Way on Telecommuting

As environmental groups and businesses look to trim energy costs during the economic downturn, AEI scholar Ken Green argues in his latest Energy and Environment Outlook that telecommuting may solve problems for both groups, and many more. Green asserts that the government should lead the way in implementing telework, as this practice offers a wide array of benefits:

  • Teleworkers and their employers significantly reduce energy use and save money. Over the course of a year, the average American could save about 340 gallons of gas, more than one thousand dollars in commuting costs, and more than three tons of carbon-dioxide emissions by teleworking.

  • Annually, a worker with a one-way commute of twenty-two miles could save 81,000 Megajoules of energy by teleworking five days a week--which is equivalent to 50 percent of the annual energy consumption of an average household.

  • Employers also stand to benefit. For example, with 40 percent of its employees teleworking, IBM has reduced office space by 78 million square feet and gained $2.9 billion since 1995.

  • The Telework Research Network found a 25 percent reduction in workforce attrition from teleworkers, along with a 27 percent increase in productivity on telework days.

  • Telework also builds resilience in the face of disaster, dispersing workers and data so business can continue and rapidly recover from natural disasters or attacks like those of September 11.

Kenneth P. Green can be reached at kgreen@aei.org (202.862.4883) or through his assistant at hiwa.alaghebandian@aei.org (202.862.5820). For additional media inquiries, please contact Hampton Foushee at hampton.foushee@aei.org (202.862.5806).

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