Telecommuting—and the subsequent use of virtual offices—is on the rise. The US Census estimates more and more Americans work primarily from home.
Virtual office workers posted the largest-ever year-over-year increase in 2016 and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Currently, the Census reports, telecommuters make up 5 percent of the workforce.
Many corporations—even those that are not technology-based—are discovering telecommuting is simply a better way to do business. And with virtual office technologies, including teleconferencing, smartphones and WiFi just about everywhere—telecommuting has never been easier for employees.
Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) research makes the case for virtual offices as a better way to do business. Here are a few consideration you may not have considered:
1. Virtual offices reduce our foreign oil dependence:
The GWA reports half-time telework (roughly the national average among those who already do) by those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home could reduce Gulf Oil imports by 45%. Saves 281 million barrels of oil worth $22 billion in oil imports.
2. Virtual offices reduces traffic jams:
If traffic continues to grow at the current pace, over the next couple of decades drivers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland, San Francisco-Oakland, Seattle-Tacoma, and Washington, D.C. will be sitting in daily traffic jams worse than the infamous traffic jams that plague Los Angeles eight hours a day. As a result, GWA reports, commutes will take almost twice as long and you’ll have to leave even earlier to allow for traffic jams if you have to arrive someplace at a specific time, producing a further reduction to our national productivity. Consider the current stats: Traffic jams rob the U.S. economy of $78 billion/year in productivity. Traffic jams idle away almost three billion gallons of gas and accounts for 26 million extra tons of greenhouse gases.
Every 1% reduction in vehicles yields a three-fold decrease in congestion
3. Virtual offices increases collaboration:
Once telework technologies are in place, employees and contractors can work together without regard to logistics. This substantially increases collaboration options.
4. Telecommuting ensures continuity of operations in the event of a disaster:
Federal workers are required to telework to the maximum extent possible for this reason. Bird flu, terrorism, roadway problems, and weather-related disasters are all issues that can be mitigated with telecommuting. Three-quarters of teleworkers say they could continue to work in the event of a disaster compared with just 28% on non-teleworkers.
5. Telecommuting increases leisure time:
Full time telework results in an extra two to three workweeks of free time a year—time that would have been spent commuting, the GWA reports, and a majority of teleworkers report they have more time with family, friends, and leisure.