Thursday, August 30, 2012

Working From Home Could Save the World

I left my full-time work and became a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) in 1997. In 1998, I started a home-based secretarial service and became a work-at-home mom (WAHM). Then, friends and family wanted to know more about what I do and how it was possible to earn money and be home full-time. So, I started researching, and I learned a lot, much of which I posted on my, then, business website, including this information about the benefits of off-site employees.

A 1999 article published by the Society for Human Resource Management stated:

"Employers can save more than $10,000 annually for each worker they allow to telecommute or work from home, according to a national study." In addition, the article estimates that employers enjoy a 22% increase in productivity from their telecommuting and home-based workers.

Companies that encourage telecommuting have enjoyed additional benefits:
  • Increased retention (employers estimated a savings of over $7,000 in employee turnover by retaining telecommuters);
  • Reduced cost of equipment and facilities (AT&T estimates it saves $6,000 PER EMPLOYEE in real estate costs alone);
  • Reduced absenteeism (with more flexibility in work hours, home workers can take care of life's little surprises - appointments, emergency child care needs, car repairs - on their time, not the employers).


The following post (*edited a bit from the original) was first published here on: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2008

Cutting Edge

In December 2007 only about 23% of economists said the US was in a Recession.

By January 2008 more than 40% admit that it's likely that the US is in a Recession.

For people who've been paying attention, that the US is in an economic recession isn't news.

Then, the other day, I saw a news story featuring a woman who wanted to tell stay-at-home Moms that it is possible to stay home full-time with their children AND earn a living working from home.

And for me, this definitely wasn't news. It's something I've personally been saying (and living) for the past decade, and authors like Lisa Roberts, Sarah and Paul Edwards, and Cheryl Demas have been saying and wrting about since the 1990s (before the dotcom bubble burst, in fact).

In 2001, I was interviewed as a home-based entrepreneur, and I'm quoted on p. 380 of the Roberts' and Edwards' collaboration The Entrepreneurial Parent.

In my mind, the news about the recession and the news article promoting home-based employment are linked.

As the recession worsens, possibly leading to a Depression, which we're fast approaching, and may already be at the brink of, jobs will be lost, and unfortunately, in our culture, we need to make a living, which means, in our culture, make money. While we likely need a lot less of it than most of us think we need, there is still a need for some - at very least, to pay for shelter, because while some people have been successful at building make-shift housing on public land, most of us end up with either a rent payment or a mortgage.

Two things happened recently.

First, a couple of days ago, I published a post about my vision of the future of suburbia. It is my hope that we will start working closer to home ... or more specifically, that more people will take the plunge, stop that little voice in their heads that insists they need some outside employment, and say, "Yes! I can!" to being self-employed, from home.

And, second, two days ago, I received in the mail a copy of the book Your Money or Your Life. The first few pages talk about how, overall, most Americans are really dissatisfied with their lives, because most of the living they do is at work.

I published a marketing piece (some of which is quoted above) on my website a few years ago about why businesses should hire contractors, like me, for their administrative needs. It was written more than eight years ago, and given climate change and Peak Oil, there are a lot of things I could add to the piece. Not only is allowing workers to work from home more cost effective, but these days, it's more eco-friendly, too. There are ways that individual homes can reduce environmental impact that just aren't feasible in a huge, public building.

Take bathroom facilities, for example. When people wash their hands, they want something to dry them with. The choices are paper towels or electric hand dryers. In my home office, we have neither. We use cloth towels. And it works, because it's just my family and our friends. There are no strangers (clients) coming into my home and using the facilities, and so I don't have to provide special amenities for them.

There are other areas, too, like heating and cooling. I don't use air conditioning, and I can keep my heat below 65°. I'm not sure a huge office building would be able to do something like that.

And health. I don't know when the last time was that I was sick with a cold, and I haven't had the flu ... ever, that I remember. The air quality in my drafty house is far superior to that in the average office building.

Honestly, with the exception of the lingering Puritan belief that unless closely monitored by the management, the average (adult) worker will waste company money rather than actually doing his job, there's absolutely no reason to hold fast to the cubicle model, especially considering that, with modern technology, most administrative jobs (and many, many others) can be done from home.

I saw a statistic that said American businesses use some 80% of the total emissions for the US. If we were able to send just half of the cubical workforce to a home office, imagine how much energy we could save?

In short, working from home generates those much-needed jobs, which improves the economy, and the overall environmental impact from business is significantly reduced by having home-based employees. Based on those two facts alone, working from home might just be the answer we've been seeking to save the world.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. Where I work we can telework 20%-60% of the time depending on which division you're in. Most of our folks absolutely LOVE it, and I know it saves a ton of gas because I know that some of my coworkers literally drive 1.5 hours EACH WAY to get to the office.

    For me, though, it's actually greener to go into the office. I work a ten-minute walk away from the office and when I stay at home I'm actually consuming more energy: the heat's on, a few lights are on, the computer is on, you get the picture. So I actually try to avoid telework whenever I can.

    Great post!