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Telecommuting and Broadband

BeetleI was looking into telecommuting and ran across a large survey done last year by FlexJobs that asked how people feel about telecommuting. As somebody who telecommutes (CCG is a virtual company and we all work at home) the results are not surprising.

The survey showed that over half of workers said that they could be most productive at home and this is where they would go to work on important projects. They cited the major reasons as fewer distractions, minimal office politics, reduced stress and a more comfortable environment.

Less than a quarter of employees thought they were most productive at an office. (When CCG went virtual we had one person who said they could not be productive in the home environment, and it’s important to recognize that telecommuting isn’t for everybody)

Interestingly, a third of the respondents thought that telecommuting was better for their health. Avoiding the stress of commuting, being able to eat their preferred diet and the flexibility to more easily make medical appointments all contribute to this. has put up some substantial information on telecommuting. Some of the more important points they make about the topic include:

  • A Stanford study shows that home-based customer service reps are 13% more efficient than those that work in a call center.
  • Another study by the University of Texas showed that telecommuters worked an average of 5 – 7 hours more per week than office-based employees.
  • Telecommuting can reduce turnover. 73% of telecommuters report being happy with their jobs as compared to 63% for office workers.
  • A Penn State study showed that telecommuters feel more valued. They feel less stress and they show gratitude for the flexibility they are given.
  • The Consumers Electronics Association calculated that telecommuting in 2013 saved enough energy to power one million homes. I’m always a bit leery of such calculations, but there is no doubt that saving on commuting is a huge benefit for society. And it’s also not bad for employees as can be witnessed by my two-and-a-half year old truck that has only 10,000 miles on the odometer.
  • Several studies have shown that employers save considerable money from allowing telecommuting and it’s been calculated in a few studies that the cost of housing an employee at the typical office costs between $10,000 and $15,000 per year. And employees who telecommute save on commuting costs, lunches and attire for the office.

Finally, Global Workplace Analytics analyzed over 4,000 studies on telecommuting and reported the following:

  • 2/3 of people would like to work at home.
  • 36% of employees would choose telecommuting over a pay raise.
  • A survey of 1,500 technology professionals showed that 37% would take a 10% pay cut to be able to work at home.
  • 14% of Americans have changed jobs to shorten commute times.
  • Almost half of employees feel that their commute is getting worse.
  • 78% of employees that call in sick really aren’t. Unscheduled absences cost employers $300 billion per year.
  • Sun Microsystems says that telecommuting employees spend 60% of the saved commuting time working for the company.
  • A number of companies report that telecommuting reduces discrimination and lets people be judged by what they do instead of what they look like.
  • And my favorite – telecommuting cuts down on wasted meetings. Web meetings tend to be better organized and shorter.

This is only a partial list of the benefits and there have been numerous studies from companies that have introduced telecommuting. But one thing is true for every telecommuter – they must have adequate home broadband. Communities without good broadband are missing out on the great benefits from telecommuting.

3 replies on “Telecommuting and Broadband”

Information and communications technology has matured to the point that it has virtualized knowledge work and effectively obsoleted the centralized, commute-in office and as I wrote in my 2015 eBook Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century.

How do you define rural? Take a look at this data that shows infrastructure deficits in nominally urban counties:

We shouldn’t allow the incumbents to define “rural” based on their decisions to redline particular neighborhoods. Redlined neighborhoods can hardly be called “rural” when as so often the case, they are within a mile or two of existing last mile infrastructure.

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