SAVE the environment. Don't go to work today. Instead...

salmagundi

March 01, 1994

SAVE the environment. Don't go to work today. Instead, join the growing ranks of telecommuters, some 2 million strong, who do their jobs at home.

Reducing traffic congestion, energy consumption and air pollution are among the potential benefits from employees who stay at home to do their assigned workloads, according to several recent studies.

These are in addition to the commonly cited benefits of flexibility and cost savings for employee and employer, and some studies that show improved productivity for certain types of jobs.

In one six-month test by the city of Los Angeles, 50 employees who stayed home to work saved 100,000 commuting miles and $15,000 in reduced gasoline purchases, parking fees and auto maintenance. That also meant less auto-caused smog and carbon monoxide pollution in the area, and a potential shrinkage in land needed for parking spaces.

The city projected that it could save $140 million, reduce gas consumption by 1.6 million gallons and cut carbon monoxide pollution by 6.6 million tons over a year, if as many as 16,000 city workers telecommute at least part of the time from home or from satellite telework stations, regional offices with computers, fax machines and other communications technologies.

Within a decade, nearly 10 percent of the national work force, or 15 million workers, will be telecommuting an average of three days or more per week, according to a federal study by the Energy, Transportation and Environmental Protection offices.

Not all these brave new workers will stay at home: multi-employer telework centers, which are beginning to appear near residential areas, can provide satellite offices with shared telecommunications capabilities and a more practical setting for concentrated work than the home environment. Their use will involve mini-commuting, but the economic and environmental savings can still be significant for many metro areas, the federal study indicates.

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