Archive for Monday, January 3, 2011


Go Green: Telecommuting good for workers, employers, environment

January 3, 2011


Arguably, the greenest improvement in the workplace has been telecommuting, made possible by technologies such as instant messaging, Skype and even e-mail. Not only can working from home reduce traffic and pollution, it can also save employees money they would have spent on meals, professional clothing and gas. Best of all, it reduces stress.

Telecommuters are less likely to call in sick and more likely to remain satisfied with their jobs. A telecommuter myself, I appreciate that it has allowed me to adjust my work schedule to the afternoons and evenings, when I’m most productive. I was never an 8-to-5 kind of person, which is one of the common reasons people telecommute.

Another is increased productivity. Like many telecommuters, Jeff Wilson, a quality assurance specialist with SOURCECORP in Lenexa, says he is far more productive at home without the built-in distractions of the office environment: “I have incredible focus at home.” In fact, because of the increased amount Wilson is able achieve at home, he tends to work too much there. “That’s the only part I don’t like. I just have to be aware of it and be willing to shut off the computer.”

Telecommuters like Wilson have found they are more efficient with home life as well. He appreciates being able to schedule appointments for himself or his children on his day at home, which allows him to share the parenting burden with his wife, Marie Stockett. Many telecommuters also find it’s easy to pop in a quick load of laundry or prep some vegetables for dinner on short breaks and save the evening for time with spouses and children and even for themselves.

Though, like Wilson, most telecommuters work a mélange of traditional office days and telecommuting, some work entirely from home. Recently retired as senior vice president of Mesirow Financial, Nora Kaschube spent the last 10 years working from her home in Lawrence after working most of her career in traditional office settings in various Chicago brokerage firms.

Though Kaschube enjoyed saying goodbye to many things about the traditional office environment, such as spending money on a professional wardrobe, her fondest farewell was with her commute: “Where I used to spend and hour and fifteen minutes on the train, a trip to my desk took 15 seconds.”

In spite of its obvious benefits, Kaschube warns against seeing telecommuting as a continual vacation: “If you’re not already focused and disciplined anyway, then you’re not suited for telecommuting,” she says. “I still opened and closed the office the same time every day. I was at my desk just like always and people knew they could depend on me. Period.”

Employees aren’t the only one’s reaping the rewards of telecommuting. According to MSNBC’s Eve Tahmincioglu, a telecommuting program at Sun Microsystems has not only saved the company $387 million in IT and office space costs, it also has brought about a 28-thousand-pound annual reduction in CO2 emissions. that’s just good green business!

Those interested in opening a dialogue about telecommuting with an employer should visit this fact sheet.

— Kelly Barth can be reached at


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