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Telework — do it for the economy!

September 9, 2010 - 0 Comments

Here on Break Down the Walls, we’ve talked consistently about telework and the benefits that it can bring to the federal government and its employees.

Unfortunately, all of this focus is necessary because, despite our efforts and those of many government policy and decision makers, telework is still the exception and not the standard in many federal government agencies. Despite the ecological benefits, the reduced operating costs and the happier and more productive workforce, agencies have still shied away from widespread adoption.

Well, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare with a REALLY long name, has given us even more ammunition for our perpetual battle for federal telework adoption.

In a recent report in their Outlook series, they discuss yet another incredibly timely reason why telework is so important today: the economy.

According to the AEI’s report, the average annual cost of commuting is $9,796 for five-day weeks. By teleworking two work days and only going into the office for three days a week that cost is cut to $3,918. That’s a $5,878 savings for workers each year.

The AEI’s Outlook also includes statistics from a report by the consulting group TIAX LLC commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association that found that 3.9 million teleworkers saved 840 million gallons of fuel annually. If fuel costs $3 per gallon, that equals $2.25 billion saved. That’s about $577 per commuter saved, if our math is somewhere in the vicinity of correct.

What would the average American consumer do with over $6,000 a year back in their pockets? They might save some of it, but odds are they’d use it to purchase goods and services and help to power our economy, which is currently mired in one of the worst recessions in recent memory.

And the savings don’t stop at the employee. Agencies could also drastically reduce their operating expenses by embracing telework and subsequently reducing office space. According to the AEI report, IBM has reduced office space by 78 million square feet and gained $2.9 billion since 1995 and Sun Microsystems is saving $70 million annually in real estate costs due to telework.

With the national debt rising and money drying up for stimulus programs, embracing telework and helping federal agencies operate more effectively and efficiently could increase the funds available for programs that are designed to improve infrastructure and kick-start the economy.

Telework in the federal government could go a long way to reducing government spending and powering an economic resurgence. Now that’s a new way of working!

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