On average US workers lose 189 hours a year commuting. If you have a business of 500 employees commuting, it comes out to 94,500 hours of time wasted sitting in a car. That is a lot of potentially productive time thrown away while driving to and from our places of work. Surely lots of work could be done in the amount of time usually spent driving, or perhaps it could even just be a little extra time with the family, but it would be good for the employee either way.
Commuting has been something most people have been willing to accept as “part of the job,” especially in larger cities. According to a study by Census.gov in 2009, the New York/New Jersey/Long Island area has the longest commute time for workers, with DC in second and Chicago, Atlanta, Riverside, and Stockton also making the top ten list. Some of these areas have tried to cut down on their environmental impact by offering effective public transportation. Long Island/New York may have the longest commute time, but they also have over 30% of their commuters going to work by public transportation, which cuts down on emissions and traffic. San Francisco came in second with about 15% of their workers using public transportation and DC in third.
So why do we keep doing it? There have certainly been enough upgrades in tech to allow working from home in the past decade. Let’s look at some of the upgrades that allow working from home to be possible.
- Tablets/Smartphones: These lightweight laptop/desktop replacements have made working from home easier than ever. They can help you keep on top of work from any room of the house with the tip of your finger.
- Remote Capabilities: Being able to remote in to your work machine from home can prevent you from having to drive into the office. This can be done from computers, tablets, and even smartphones.
- Video Conferencing: Need to have a face to face meeting? This can easily be done through various softphone programs like Skype or iChat. This means you still have to get dressed for work in the morning even if you are staying home, but you may save a 45 minute commute for a 30 minute meeting.
- Meeting Programs w/ Document Sharing: With Meeting Programs like GoToMeeting and WebEx available to us, there is no reason why employees working remotely can’t be included in a meeting and have the same experience as all the other team members. With document sharing and screen sharing you can see the presentation as if you were in the room in real time.
- Cloud Storage: With so many cloud based storage companies popping up, there is no reason why your data should be restricted to just one computer. Having your data on the cloud means being able to access it anywhere, allowing you to work from wherever you are. Not to mention it is a great idea for backups in case your computer crashes. Many of these services are free, and you have plenty of choices. Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, and plenty more are out there for your storage needs.
Employers, isn’t about time you start to rethink the hefty commute for your employees? Working at home is a legitimate option these days, and cutting down on travel time will not only save time they could be working, but it will also make them less stressed out. Say goodbye to commutes, and hello to happier employees using better technology.