Could Telecommuting Be The Next Big Carbon Killer

It’s no secret that the world is now facing a critical challenge when it comes to carbon emissions. And gas-guzzling cars & daily rush-hour traffic are usually highlighted as the primary cause of unnecessary CO2 emissions. Although it will probably be another 20 years before we’re all driving electric cars, there is another – much more practical – way to eliminate the negative effects of our daily work commute.

In 1993, AT&T proposed a series of shockingly ambitious future predictions in their “You Will” commercial series. And what’s even more shocking is the fact that most of the predictions laid out in these commercials were spot-on.

However, the “work from the beach” mobile computing scenario highlighted in these commercials never really played out the way AT&T had hoped. Although the technology to make this world a reality certainly exists, there are still many political barriers which exist amongst employers who are afraid to let go for reasons relating to productivity, security or control.

But with the new generation of “digital natives” entering the workplace, employers are beginning to loosen up these attitudes in order to attract and retain the best talent by offering the most attractive lifestyle benefits.

A few larger organizations have recently begun to experiment with large-scale telecommuting projects, and the results have been impressive. In early 2012, British telecom company O2 announced that they planned to cut over 160,000,000 tonnes of unnecessary carbon emissions over the next 3 years by allowing employees to work remotely.

So far, their efforts have shown that the negative effects of telecommuting are miniscule when compared to the benefits. Less than 12% of participating employees have shown negative effects on productivity, while 36% actually saw an increase. The company also experienced significant cost-savings from reduced office use.

Allowing employees to telework also provides employees with significant non-monetary incentives:

  • Instead of waiting in rush-hour traffic every morning, this time is better spent.
  • Employees can go on vacation and work from anywhere in the world without taking time off.
  • Employees can establish synergistic coworking groups to stimulate and share ideas. (ex: 5 programmers from different companies working together in the same space)

And best of all, telecommuting is completely secure:

  • VPNs ensure that network connections remain secure while working remotely
  • Today, most productivity applications can be delivered via virtualized desktops or SaaS interfaces

Employee telecommuting is a practical, inexpensive and very attractive alternative to driving to work every day. And it’s growing in popularity at an accelerating pace. According to IDC, the number of employees working from home offices will exceed 27 million. (They most likely meant US workers, but didn’t mention it explicitly in the article)

Could this be the scalable, sustainable answer to smog and automotive pollution? Leave your comments below and let’s discuss.

About The Author: For more information on green computing and telecommuting, visit Paul Rudo’s blog at

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  1. Rabia Akram

    Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular nowadays,it has taken flight as global trend.Halftime telecommuting could reduce carbon emissions by over 51 millionmetric tons a year.
    Rabia Akram recently posted..Windows 8: Top Security Features Never Offered BeforeMy Profile

  2. noman

    hi pavan – Preserves Our Environment by reducing land use requirements for highway expansion and by reducing slow-moving automobile emissions. Highways and parking lots are continuing to consume large quantities of our land surface area. If a larger percentage of people telecommuted to work, existing highways could be reduced in size and parking lots could be converted to parks. thank you for sharing this post
    noman recently posted..Apple and HTC reach global legal settlementMy Profile

  3. Jimi Ellis

    Hi Pavan,
    companies could cut costs through telecommuting. Not only are many workers apparently willing to take a pay cut in exchange for the ability to work from home, but as you say can save office space etc, but what about the workers who don’t work from home, there may be bad feeling against them that do, and productivity may be effected.
    Thanks for the interesting reading, I’m, pleased i work at home!

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