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Friday, January 16, 2009

Give a Hoot, Telecommute!

James Stevenson, Pinellas County Extension Specialist, Urban Sustainability

Many of us are looking for ways to save money and the environment these days. Although the price of gasoline has dropped from its all-time high back in the summer, that spike served as a wake-up call. It would seem that many people have now realized, first hand, what it means to have the price of a non-renewable resource reflect its availability.

Not surprisingly there were several stories in the local, state and national news about the practice of telecommuting. Telecommuting allows employees to carry out the same work duties from a location other than the primary work place. Generally speaking, telecommuting involves working from home, therefore forgoing the tedious and expensive commute into work.

In addition to reducing the cost of gasoline for the employee, each telecommuter is one less vehicle on the road, thus reducing traffic congestion. Fewer vehicles in a workplace’s parking lot might just be a welcomed advantage as well.

What are the benefits to the employee besides a reduced gasoline bill at the end of the month? Studies have shown that the level of trust that is necessary for this arrangement to succeed contributes to an increase in employee motivation and productivity. A happy employee is a productive employee!

Companies that have telecommuting guidelines and policies in place can choose which employees may be suited for this arrangement. Of course there are some jobs that can never be done “from home,” but with careful planning and a bit of experience, a work schedule can be devised that benefits the employee and employer alike.

Whether it is one day a week, three days a week or only one day a month, in a county the size of Pinellas each employee’s reduction of resource use could soon add up to environmental savings!


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