Americans are working from home, or telecommuting, now more than ever. The telecommuting trend was already growing over the past decade, and the pandemic really accelerated the shift from the office to remote work.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 50% of the workforce holds telework-compatible jobs. A whopping 79% of people want to work from home. Given that telecommuting makes work more efficient and reduces overhead for businesses, the move to it could result in an economic benefit of over $700 billion per year, with companies seeing savings from real estate, utilities, and increased productivity, as well as from decreased turnover and absenteeism. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that telecommuting could save workers two to three weeks of time spent commuting and thousands of dollars in transportation and other work-related costs each year.
On the environmental side, WalletHub suggests if we have 50 million employees nationwide who want to work from home and allow 47 million of them to do so, we’d save 390 million gallons of gas and prevent 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Calculate The Cost Of Going Into The Office
If you are considering returning to the office (or your boss is mandating it), you can use WalletHub’s Telework Calculator to estimate how much time and money you might save by working from home for part or all of the week. The handy tool uses your vehicle type, location and commute distance and time to calculate potential savings.
For example, if you live in Michigan, drive an SUV and commute 10 miles five days per week, the calculator estimates that telecommuting could save you $3,076 per year on gas and car expenses and that you could theoretically earn an extra $4,641 by working during the time you would have spent commuting. That figure is calculated using each state’s average hourly wage. The calculator also estimates that eliminating that commute would reduce carbon emissions by 2.6 tons annually.
Intangible Benefits Of Telecommuting
Working from home can also improve work-life balance, as many of us learned during the pandemic. Having the flexibility to tackle a load of laundry in between Zoom meetings or keep an eye on the kids after school can go a long way in boosting employee morale. In fact, a recent study of more than 12,000 workers determined that remote work increased employee happiness by 20%.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to telecommuting, especially when it comes to data security, workplace culture and employee engagement. Some managers argue that in-person interaction is critical for team building.
Managing Back-To-Office Costs
If you want or need to return to the office, some increase in expenses is probably inevitable. New data shows that a single day in the office can cost more than $50 when you account for things like lunches out, coffee runs, dog walkers and transportation. But you may be able to offset or reduce those expenses. If your employer prefers you to be in the office more than at home, you could try to renegotiate your salary because of the change in circumstances or ask about employer-provided benefits such as transportation or parking stipends.
Packing your lunch and brewing coffee at home can also help curb spending. Those seemingly small purchases can add up to a few hundred dollars each month if you work in the office two, three or more days per week.
By Emily O’Brien, for Newsy.
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