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Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the US Environment and the Economy

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This study examines how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. through the widespread delivery of broadband services and the expansion of telecommuting. Telecommuting can reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years by approximately 588.2 tons of which 247.7 million tons is due to less driving, 28.1 million tons is due to reduced office construction, and 312.4 million tons because of less energy usage by businesses. This paper explores these broadband services and their effects on the environment, specifically as a means to achieve better and cleaner energy use, while enhancing economic output, worker productivity and the standard of living of American consumers.
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Low Carbon Economy, 2011, 2, 41-47
doi:10.4236/lce.2011.21007 Published Online March 2011 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/lce)
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. LCE
41
Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the U.S.
Environment and the Economy
Joseph P. Fuhr
1,2
, Stephen Pociask
2
1
Economics Widener University Chester, PA, USA;
2
The American Consumer Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
Email: jpfuhr@widener.edu
Received December 3
rd
, 2010; revised December 20
th
, 2010; accepted December 29
th
, 2010.
ABSTRACT
This study examines how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. through the widespread delivery of broadband
services and the expansion of telecommuting. Telecommuting can reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10
years by approximately 588.2 tons of which 247.7 million tons is due to less driving, 28.1 million tons is due to reduced
office construction, and 312.4 million tons because of less energy usage by businesses. This paper explores these
broadband services and their effects on the environment, specifically as a means to achieve better and cleaner energy
use, while enhancing economic output, worker productivity and the standard of living of American consumers.
Keywords: Broadband, Economy, Environment, Telecommuting
1. Introduction
The world is becoming more and more aware of and
concerned about changes in the atmosphere due to ex-
treme weather events, melting glaciers, and changing
ecosystems. As the Washington Post noted in a special
report about global warming and climate change, “broad
scientific evidence suggests that carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gas emissions have already triggered changes
in the Earth’s climate and that more disruptive changes
lie ahead” [1]. The story discussed a range of costly and
daunting measures to address the problem by reducing
emissions.
This paper adds to the discussion of how to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by documenting the reductions
that can be realized by the widespread delivery of
broadband services in the U.S. Current carbon dioxide
emissions in the U.S. hover around 5.8 billion tons and
are growing [2]. In this study we examine only one as-
pect of broadband’s ability to decrease carbon emissions,
that of telecommuting. Broadband can not only decrease
pollution but also contribute to economic growth and job
creation.
2. Present Situation
In 2008, there were 256 million motor vehicles registered
in the U.S., with automobiles and trucks accounting for
54% and 39% of these vehicles, respectively [3]. By one
source, the use of personal vehicles accounts for 30% to
50% of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as similar ef-
fects on toxic water and air pollutants [4]. The typical
personal vehicle produces 5.0 tons of carbon dioxide
annually [5], as well as methane, nitrous oxide and vari-
ous man-made gases. The roads needed to move vehicles
are also a threat to the environment, as they replace for-
ests and affect animal habitats. These roads are usually
constructed with petroleum components, their mainte-
nance expends energy and resources, and they produce
hazardous runoff into nearby streams.
A number of legislative proposals have called for re-
quiring more energy efficient automobiles and encour-
aging the production of alternative fuels [6,7]. While pro-
viding benefits, however, these proposals are likely to
produce more expensive automobiles and significantly
higher fuel costs. The most popular alternative fuel,
ethanol, is typically produced from corn and is more ex-
pensive than gasoline. Since corn prices have increased
faster than other goods and services, the outlook for etha-
nol as an alternative source of energy will mean that corn
prices are likely to continue to increase faster than the
price of other goods and services. Since corn is used as
feedstock, as well as for cereals and other foods, higher
prices will mean higher food prices for consumers, in
addition to higher energy prices [8]. Moreover, the use of
many of these alternative fuels, like ethanol and other
bio-based energies, still result in carbon emissions. One
Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the U.S. Environment and the Economy
42
advantage is that domestically-produced ethanol re-
lieves some pressure on oil-imports. Alternate fuels still
leave policymakers with difficult choices that pose high
costs for consumers, at least in the short run, but the cost
of oil is likely to rise as reserves are depleted.
3. Telecommuting and Telework
Broadband services help provide seamless data, video
and voice communications, permitting workers to use
their home in the same manner as a businesses’ office in
what is described as telecommuting and telework. Tele-
commuting is the use of telecommunications technology
to allow employees to work from their homes and avoid
the use of transportation to commute to and from work
[9]. Telework is the use of telecommunications to work
anywhere other than the home office, such as telework
sites satellite offices, and remote locations [10]. Another
group not covered by either term is home-based workers,
who consist of self-employed workers who work at home
instead of renting office space. Of the 25.4 million firms
in the U.S., nearly 20 million (77%) are non-employer
firms [11]. Of these, nearly 85% are in service industries,
many of which are very conducive to home-based work-
ing arrangements [11]. However, the amount of tele-
commuting in the U.S. is constrained by the fact that
only about one-half of U.S. households have a high-
speed connection to the Internet [12]. These statistics
suggest that there is potential for growth in telecommut-
ing.
Based on data through early 2006, only 2% of workers
telecommute full time and 8% operate businesses from
home, suggesting that 10% regularly work at home [13].
However, 25% had the potential to regularly work from
home [13]. Similarly, a survey by Dieringer Research
found 14.7 million individuals working almost every day
from home during 2006 [14]. Given that there are 146
million persons employed in the U.S [15], the percent of
full time home workers is (again) about 10%. However,
28.7% of workers work at least one day per month from
home, and 44.8% report having done some work from
home [14]. Therefore, the potential for expanding tele-
commuting could be significant, providing that workers
and employers see the benefits of working remotely from
the office.
In addition, the potential for increased telecommuting
for government workers is high. According to the Office
of Personal Management 41% of federal workers are
eligible for telecommuting but only 19% do [16], which
constitutes 7.7% of total federal workforce [16]. Senators
Landrieu (D-La.) and Stevens (R-Ak.) have introduced a
bill that will make more federal government employees
eligible for telecommuting [16].
4. Potential Benefits of Telecommuting
Balaker adeptly describes telecommuting as “the most
cost-effective way to reduce rush-hour traffic and it can
improve how a weary nation copes with disasters, from
hurricanes to terrorist attacks” [17]. He states:
It helps improve air quality, highway safety, and even
health care as new technologies allow top-notch physi-
cians to be (virtually) anywhere. Telecommuting expands
opportunities for the handicapped, conserves energy, and
– when used as a substitute for offshore outsourcing – it
can help allay globalization fears and save American
jobs. It can even make companies more profitable, which
is good news for our nations managers, many of whom
have long been suspicious of telecommuting [17].
The major gain to the environment from telecommut-
ing is the decrease in the number of automobile trips. A
recent survey found that 91% of workers commute by car,
4% by ride sharing, 3% by public transit and 3% by other
means [13]. Telecommuting is zero emission transporta-
tion. Studies show that telecommuters reduce daily trips
on days that they telecommute by up to 51% and auto-
mobile travel by up to 77% [17].
Since people are staying home instead of driving to
work, telecommuting reduces fuel consumption and im-
proves air quality. There is less traffic congestion, oil
consumption, and noise and air pollution as a result of
telecommuting. Since fewer cars are needed, telecom-
muting will also save emissions and pollution associated
with automobile production. With fewer cars needed for
commuting, car production can be reduced. Another
benefit is that less infrastructure will be needed, avoiding
construction and road maintenance costs, as well as re-
ducing hazardous runoff into nearby streams.
On the other hand, those who telecommute may not
save the entire trip-miles to and from work. They may
still use their car to drop off a child at daycare or pick up
groceries, as they formerly did on route to and from an
office. They may move further from an urban area to take
advantage of a rural setting, increasing the commute dis-
tance when they actually go to an office. These offsets
have been referred to as the “rebound effect” and more
study is needed to determine how they impact the overall
savings which telecommuting can potentially deliver.
5. Stakeholders that Benefit from
Telecommuting
Who benefits from telecommuting? In general, telecom-
muting can benefit various stakeholders such as consum-
ers, employees, employers and society especially the
elderly and disabled.
5.1. Benefits to Employees
Employees can benefit in various ways from telecom-
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Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the U.S. Environment and the Economy
43
muting. Telecommuting can provide job flexibility, which
can i
mprove the balance between work and personal time.
Telecommuters have increased job satisfaction, a distrac-
tion free environment, better time management, are less
involved in office politics and generally have less stress.
Pitney Bowes offers telecommuting “to enhance employee
effectiveness and positively impact the quality of life of
workers by minimizing the stress, fatigue, time and cost
associated with commuting to and from work” [18].
Also, by eliminating the commute to work people have
more time for work or leisure. According to US Depart-
ment of Census data, the average commute is 26.4 min-
utes each way or 53 minutes daily [19]. Telecommuting
allows workers to find more time savings by reorganiz-
ing their lives to take advantage of many different kinds
of low congestion periods. Those who shop during off-
peak find parking easier and they also spend less time at
the checkout line [17]. Quality of life increases as they
workout in a less crowded health club which saves time.
During breaks from work, they can do household chores.
They can take their children to and from school, and be
home when the children leave or arrive.
There is also gas savings as well as lower maintenance
costs as usage of the vehicle decreases. By one estimate,
the typical worker pays US$688 annually for work-re-
lated gasoline, and represents a direct savings for tele-
commuters [13,19]. This decrease in usage from tele-
commuting means that fewer cars are needed. Telecom-
muters save money by eating out less, decreasing daycare
needs, and spending less on work-wardrobes and dry
cleaning. There is also the potential for a tax deduction
for a home office.
5.2. Benefits to Employers
Employers have also gained from telecommuting. There
are various estimates of the gain in productivity as a re-
sult of telecommuting. Allenby reports that Siemens,
Compaq, Cisco, Merrill Lynch, Nortel and American
Express have reported increases in productivity as a re-
sult of telework programs of between 10% and 50%, and
a five-year Smart Valley study found an average of 25%
increase in productivity for participating companies [20].
Another advantage is that performance is measured by
results rather than hours in the office. While absenteeism
increases when employees are sick or have a sick child,
telecommuting may allow the worker to be somewhat
productive. Also if an employee has a contagious illness,
telecommuting will reduce the spread of illnesses to
other workers, thereby increasing productivity. Thus both
absenteeism and presenteeism decreases. It is estimated
that presenteeism costs US companies about US$150
billion a year [17] and that the increased flexibility in
scheduling as a result of telework saves companies
around US$2 000 per teleworker annually in reduced
absenteeism [20].
Bad weather and emergencies, like terrorism, fires or
natural disasters, are less likely to affect employees’ abil-
ity to get to work. For example, JetBlue uses at-home
agents for its reservation center which greatly increases
the flexibility of the firm, as well as reducing the cost of
booking a flight by 20% [20]. A company spokesperson
stated:
When things get busy, like during a weather event, we
can send an e-mail to all agents asking them to log in to
help. The response is immediate – we don’t have to wait
for them to come in [21].
Studies have shown that telecommuting decreases the
turnover rate which can significantly decrease the cost of
training and recruiting. Best Buy has instituted a program
for telecommuters called ROWE. This program has a
3.2% lower voluntary turnover rate than non-ROWE
teams. Best Buy has estimated the per-employee cost of
turnover is US$102 000 and productivity is 35% higher
for ROWE team members [22]. Also employees are more
loyal, focused and energized. Telecommuting allows
employees who otherwise would not be able to commute
such as mothers, the elderly and the disabled the oppor-
tunity to be gainfully employed. Since telecommuting
increases the pool of applicants and thus the quality of
employees it can give a firm a competitive advantage by
being the employer of choice. A senior Director at Sun
Microsystems states “We found that our remote employ-
ees were among our most excellent performers” [23].
As a result of telecommuting, firms will need less
equipment, office space, parking spaces, office equip-
ment, supplies and other amenities. IBM claims it saves
almost US$1 billion a year in avoided real estate costs,
thanks to telecommuting [20]. Sun Microsystems esti-
mated that it saved US$69 million in real estate cost in
2005, as a result of its telecommuting program [23], and
it was able to decrease office space use by 30% after im-
plementing its “iWork” program [24]. Nortel and AT&T
estimate telecommuting saves US$20 million and US$25
million in real-estate costs, respectively, while Unisys cut
office space 90% [17]. In one study, AT&T found that
employee productivity improved by US$65 million, in-
creased labor retention saved US$15 million [20], and
teleworkers avoided commuting 100 million miles, which
reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 45 000 tons less of
CO
2
emissions, or around 1.8 tons per teleworker [20]. In
that study, broadband access to the Internet was found to
be a critical success factor [20]. Studies also found en-
ergy savings because construction was avoided and be-
cause the energy required in a home office was substan-
tially less than in a commercial office. For instance, one
study found a reduction in energy use and a savings in
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. LCE
Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the U.S. Environment and the Economy
44
real estate costs of US$25 million [20]. Another estimate
found that home offices use less energy than a commer-
cial office – a difference between 3 000 to 4 400 kWh
per year [25]. Romm estimated that 3.5 billion square
feet of saved commercial space would result in the
avoidance of 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gases
[25]. Also, the avoidance of construction of these build-
ings would save another 36.4 million metric tons of
greenhouse pollution [25].
5.3. Other Benefits to Society
Besides the environmental benefits of telecommuting,
there are various other benefits to society. With less
commuting, the number of automobile accidents and
deaths will decrease as well as maintenance and infra-
structure cost for roads, there will be less of a strain on
public transit. There are also benefits to rural economies,
since people can live where they work. Workers can also
supplement their earnings by using technology to earn
money by working at home as a second job. Decreasing
the amount of pollution will also decrease health-related
problems especially respiratory ailments which are exac-
erbated by particulate pollution. Two groups that find it
particularly difficult to commute to work and could par-
ticularly benefit from the ability to work from home are
the disabled and elderly. The ability to telecommute
could result in increased opportunities for gainful em-
ployment. Also, telecommuting can lead to homeshoring
which “is the transfer of service industry employment
from offices to home-based employees with appropriate
telephone and Internet facilities” [26]. This will decrease
the flight of jobs overseas.
5.3.1. Benefits to Elderly and Disabled
Broadband can greatly increase the quality of life and
potential job opportunities for the elderly and disabled.
Litan found that broadband deployment and use lowered
medical costs and institutionalized living, while increas-
ing labor force participation for seniors and individuals
with disabilities [27]. All told, Litan estimated the cumu-
lative benefit to be at least US$927 billion over a 25-year
period (with future benefits discounted in 2005 US$s)
[27].
Litan states that “the broader use of the Internet, and
specifically ‘broadband’ technologies, to deliver health
care services and information to senior citizens and indi-
viduals with disabilities, and to make it easier for mem-
bers of both populations to work, if they are willing to do
so” [27]. Given that many elderly and disabled are un-
able to travel to work, telecommuting offers expanded
work opportunities. The potential for increased employ-
ment is especially important to disabled Americans
whose unemployment rate is 75% [17].
5.3.2. Homeshoring
Reports suggest that millions of jobs have been out-
sourced to overseas companies, a phenomena referred to
as offshoring. One report cites that half of the Fortune
500 companies have offshored jobs [28], and Forester
Research predicts 3 million jobs will be moved overseas
by 2015 [29,30]. Concerns over these lost domestic jobs
have led to lawmakers crafting over 200 bills designed to
impede offshoring [17]. The alternative, homeshoring,
can be the domestic answer to this exodus, and broad-
band technology can play an important role in this rever-
sal. Homeshoring is the use of home-based agents to
field various types of customer care inquirers. “Virtual”
call centers employ home based agents which takes away
the need for the brick-and-mortar. Early adopters of
homeshoring include JetBlue Airways, Alpine Access,
PHH Arval and LiveOps [21]. Homeshoring encourages
a diverse workforce that could include mothers, retirees,
students, and people with disabilities and people who
want maximum flexibility [21]. Technology has the po-
tential to change the landscape of customer care services.
Growth in broadband services to the home, including
voice-over-Internet telecommunications and softswitch
technologies, has decreased labor and facility costs. One
study estimated that in a traditional call center in the
United States costs are around US$31 per employee hour,
including overhead and training, whereas home based
agents can decrease cost by up to US$10 an hour. Home-
based retention rates are around 85%, whereas conven-
tional call centers have a retention rate of between 10%
and 20% [31]. The higher productivity and lower cost
have made homeshoring a competitive alternative to off-
shore outsourcing, which has had a negative impact on
domestic employment opportunities. The presence of
broadband infrastructure in rural communities can serve
to develop a pool of online workers, which may attract
information-based businesses, such as IT development,
software and IT service businesses, as well as back-office
telecommunications centers. By increasing broadband
development and use, as well as encouraging telework
participation, a pool of flexible workers can be drawn
upon that can stem, and possibly reverse, the loss of do-
mestic jobs.
As worker productivity and morale increases, a firm’s
per unit costs decrease. Given competitive markets, de-
creases in per unit costs result in lower prices and in-
creased quality for consumers. In addition, the quality of
the customer service experience will improve, since do-
mestic-based telecommuters can more easily and quickly
be called upon to deal with peak periods of demand,
thereby reducing long hold times in customer service call
centers and help hotlines.
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Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the U.S. Environment and the Economy
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6. Estimation of Environmental Benefits of
Telecommuting
6.1. Direct Benefits
On an average work day, millions of Americans com-
mute between home and work by way of their personal
vehicle. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there
are 146 million persons employed in the U.S [15], and
transportation statistics show that 91% of workers (or
132.9 million workers) use personal cars to commute to
work [32]. Assuming that that the average number of
people in a carpool is 3, approximately 127.5 million
personal vehicles are regularly used to commute 132.9
million workers. This activity expends time, creates con-
gestion, costs lives in car accidents, and it wastes motor
vehicles, maintenance, fuel and public resources.
The average U.S. worker commutes 15 miles and 26.4
minutes one-way to their job [19], which means that 918
billion miles are traveled and 1.7 trillion minutes are lost
in the course of a 240 day commuting year. To put this
into context, the travel time wasted is equivalent to the
annual paid hours of 17.2 million production workers.
The lost wages and cost of the vehicle (including gas,
depreciation, insurance and maintenance) would be nearly
US$1 trillion or, incredibly, 7.2% of the total gross do-
mestic product of the U.S. In other words, for every
US$14 produced in the economy; US$1 is wasted just
getting employees to work using their personal vehicle.
The effect on the environment is equally stunning.
Assuming fuel efficiency of 21 miles per gallon, com-
muting to work using personal vehicles consumes 44
billion gallons of gasoline per year. In terms of green-
house gasses, private vehicles used during commuting
release 424 million tons of carbon dioxide into the at-
mosphere each year [33]. In addition, other emissions
include 23 million tons of carbon monoxide, 1.8 million
tons of volatile organic carbons and 1.5 million tons of
oxides of nitrogen each year [34]. All of these statistics
ignore the fuel expended for public transportation, gov-
ernment vehicles and other vehicles, most notably those
used for construction, material transportation, shipping
and commercial sales fleets.
As the literature presented in this study shows, tele-
commuting can reduce pollutants without sacrificing, and
likely augmenting, economic productivity. As previously
noted, around 10% of workers telecommute full time,
approximately one-tenth of these economic and envi-
ronmental costs are already being saved, which approxi-
mates an annual reduction of 45 million tons of green-
house gases.
According to a survey conducted by Rockbridge the
potential for telecommuting could reach 25% participa-
tion. One holdback on telecommuting is the fact that only
half of U.S. households have broadband services, which
suggests (again) that telecommuting could well double in
the U.S [12]. Using the economic and environmental
costs discussed earlier in this paper, a doubling of the
current level of telecommuting, to say 20%, would mean
that one-fifth of the environmental cost of commuting
could be eliminated.
To highlight the future (potential) benefit of telecom-
muting, this study estimates the effect of an increase in
telecommuting equal to an additional 10% of the work-
force over the next ten years. Based on this incremental
increase and using the same calculations as before, the
total economic savings direct time and expense would be
US$96.5 billion, including the cost of 4.4 billion gallons
of gasoline each year. In terms of the environmental
benefits, if 10% more of the workforce could telecom-
mute fulltime, emissions of greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere would be reduced by an additional 42.4 mil-
lion tons of carbon dioxide, as well as 2.6 million tons of
other pollutants, which results in 45.0 million fewer tons
of greenhouse gases each year. Over the next ten years,
the cumulative incremental savings would be equal to
247.7 million tons of greenhouse gases. Keep in mind
that these benefits include only those associated with the
use of a personal car, and not with public transportation.
6.2. Indirect Benefits
While these are potential direct benefits, there are many
indirect benefits, some of which can be approximated,
such as the benefits from reduced traffic. While there are
benefits to drivers who telecommute, the reduction in
traffic bestows a benefit on all other drivers. In other
words, as road congestion is reduced, there are benefits
for those who continue to use the roads, and these bene-
fits could be significant. In 2003, according to the Texas
Transportation Institute, US$63.1 billion worth of time
and fuel was wasted due to traffic congestion during rush
hour in 85 metropolitan areas. This resulted in 3.7 billion
hours per year, which is an average of 47 hours per
commuter and 2.3 billion gallons of gas [35]. As previ-
ously estimated there are 127.5 million work commuter
vehicles. According to 2000 U.S. Census of those com-
muters, 66.9 million or 52.5 percent leave for work be-
tween 6:30 and 8:29 in the morning which will be con-
sidered peak time. John Edwards, chairman and founder
of the Telework Coalition notes that “for every 1% re-
duction in the number of cars on the road there is a 3%
reduction in traffic congestion” [36]. If the average num-
ber of vehicles on the road during rush is 100 million, a
10% increase in telecommuting would result in 6.7 (6.7%)
million less private vehicles commuting to work during
rush hour, or 20.1% decrease in congestion. In this sce-
nario, the savings in wasted time and fuel would be
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. LCE
Broadband and Telecommuting: Helping the U.S. Environment and the Economy
46
US$12.7 billon and 744 million hours would be saved as
well as 462 million gallons of gasoline, which is equiva-
lent to 4.8 million tons of greenhouse gas not being
emitted into the atmosphere. This study makes no attempt
to forecast future benefits of decreased congestion.
Since telecommuting reduces the need for office space,
there is reduced energy use for a home office versus a
commercial office, as well as energy savings that results
from avoiding office building construction. What would
the savings be, if each full time telecommuter resulted in
one less office? Based on this study’s prediction of the
number of telecommuters that could be added to the ex-
isting base and assuming that the average office worker
utilizes 250 square feet of commercial office space, the
total reduction in office space would equal 3.3 billion
square feet.
Since less corporate office space would be needed,
there is an additional environmental savings because less
energy will be expended constructing additional office
space. We assume that for every 1 billion reduction in sq.
ft of construction 8.5 million tons of greenhouse gas is
not produced [37]. Thus by avoiding 3.3 billion sq. ft. of
construction, 28.1 billion greenhouse gases would not be
emitted [37]. These estimates do not take into account the
reduction in power plant construction averted as the de-
mand for electricity decreases which is a one-time benefit.
With less office space and because a home office uses
less energy than a commercial office, there would be less
electrical power used, which would produce additional
environmental benefits. Assuming an average savings of
3500 kWh per home office and 13.3 million telecom-
muters, we estimate that the total energy savings would
be 46.6 billion kWh per year [25]. According to federal
government statistics from the Oak Ridge National
Laboratory 2.3 pounds of CO
2
are produced from using
one kWh of electricity [38]. Converting this into tons of
CO
2
and including other greenhouse gases, the energy
savings from reduced office space would be 56.8 million
tons of greenhouse gases. This means that over the next
ten years, the incremental cumulative benefit would be
312 million tons of greenhouse gases. Again, these bene-
fits do not include any savings from reduction in com-
muters who use public transportation. The table 1 below
summarizes the environmental benefits of telecommut-
ing.
7. Conclusions
As previously noted, these environmental benefits come
without sacrificing economic output and productivity.
Thus, telecommuting can lead to increased profits for the
firm, better work life balance for the employees, more
employment especially for the disabled, elderly, mothers
and rural residents, and less pollution and oil consumption
Table 1. The environmental benefits of telecommuting.
Telecommuting Green
Effects
Annual Savings
Million Tons
Forecast
Incremental 10
years
Million Tons
Direct Effects from Driving 45.0 247.7
Indirect Effects from
Congestion
4.8 N.A.
Office Space Not Built 28.1 28.1
Saved Office Space Energy 56.8 312.4
for society, as well as lower prices and better quality of
life. Encouraging the development of technology such as
broadband services, which will facilitate the use of more
telecommuting, could become one of the most important
economic public policy initiatives, because it helps the
environment while augmenting economic growth.
While this study provides a number of simple esti-
mates of the environmental effects of information tech-
nologies, further research is needed to develop a more
comprehensive analysis. Future studies should consider
the increased jobs that could be eligible for telecommut-
ing once high-speed “telepresence”, the ability to feel as
though you are actually present, video conferencing tools
become common. These tools could open up telecom-
muting to those employees whose jobs require face-to-
face contact with peers or clients. This may substantially
increase the potential benefits beyond what has been al-
ready noted in this study. In addition, there are environ-
mental and economic benefits from telecommuting that
would result in reduced public transit use, which have
not been measured in this study. In summary, while this
study attempts to quantify many of the benefits of tele-
commuting, more work is needed.
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... Increased congestion in major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Bangalore makes it extremely crucial to assess the impact of telecommuting on travel behaviour in the Indian scenario (Lila and Anjaneyulu, 2013). Along with widely studied environmental benefits of telecommuting like reduction in emission of harmful gases, decrease in energy consumption and reduction of congestion on roads, researchers have assessed various societal benefits like reduction in the number of traffic accidents and related injuries as well as a decrease in demand for new freeways (Nilles, 1988;Bailey and Kurland, 2002;Fuhr and Pociask, 2011;Pyöriä, 2013). ...
... Extant literature concludes that much lesser energy is consumed in-home office in comparison to the commercial space (Fuhr and Pociask, 2011). Lister and Harnish (2011) claimed that energy saved directly by telecommuting is more than the total energy generation of renewable sources. ...
... Home-shoring is another not so recognised benefit of telecommuting. Home-shoring is the practice of getting work done locally at domestic homes instead of outsourcing it to another country (Fuhr and Pociask, 2011). As reported in previous studies as well, telecommuting could be a great talent attraction and retention strategy (Pinsonneault and Boisvert, 2001;Bailey and Kurland, 2002;Gajendran and Harrison, 2007;Martin and MacDonnell, 2012). ...
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The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of telecommuting on congestion, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions in India and empirically test it. After a comprehensive review of available literature, data was collected from 56 employees working as telecommuters through semi-structured, face-to-face and in-depth exploratory interviews. The study found that the adoption of telecommuting will lead to a reduction in congestion, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions in India; and it will also result in other societal benefits. The findings of this study suggest that telecommuting could be implemented as a tool to curb traffic congestion and its adverse effects on the environment and it can also be used as a transport demand management strategy in India. Telecommuting could also be used as a talent attraction and retention tool. It will also lead to a reduction in road accidents and boost traffic safety as well as women’s safety in India. The study contributes empirically to the existing scarce literature focusing on environmental as well as societal benefits of adopting telecommuting in India. Keywords: telecommuting; congestion; energy consumption; societal benefits; emissions; India.
... Improved air quality and reduced fuel consumption and traffic congestion are the major benefits of telecommuting (Bentley et al., 2016). Fuhr and Pociask (2011) reported that telecommuting could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the USA to an extent of 588.2 tones by 2021 due to reduced patterns of energy consumption, construction and travel. Effect of WFH concept on urban traffic and air quality was studied in Switzerland. ...
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Natural resources are under constant exploitation due to industrialization and urbanization. Ecological disturbance caused by over exploitation of resources is one of the possible reasons for the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the highly infectious nature of this disease, countries across the world have taken self-imposed isolation measures such as lockdown, quarantine, curfew, etc., to limit human-to-human spread. Though this pandemic has shaken the world and left millions suffering, it has also caused surprising positive effects to environment. Due to reduced human pressure on ecosystems during the lockdown, betterment of air, water quality and biodiversity along with reduced consumption of natural resources have been reported. It is necessary to maintain this improvement in order to avoid the environmental benefits slipping away once the world limbs back to normalcy. The benefits acquired in terms of resource conservation prompt us to avoid unnecessary human interference and adopt sustainable life styles. Wide usage of information and communication technologies (viz. work from home, teleconferencing, e-learning and e-commerce) during the pandemic revealed their potential in meeting the needs of human livelihood and played a significant role in improvement in air quality and reduced resource consumption. Implementing them should be a policy measure during an environmental crisis. Active government involvement is necessary for coordinating institutional and policy aspects of resource conservation. Smooth transitioning to more sustainable post-COVID world thus requires coordinated action at individual, local, national and international levels. Restoring environmental resources is essential to prevent future pandemics.
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... Remote working offers clear benefits for the employer, such as reducing the need for expensive office space, and the associated climate control, lighting and other costs, as well as some environmental responsibility benefits due to fewer CO 2 emissions related to commuting (Fuhr & Pociask, 2011) and can lead to increased organisational commitment from staff (Felstead & Henseke, 2017). There are also advantages of remote working for employees, such as greater control over time, less or no commuting, more time with the family, job satisfaction and jobrelated well-being (Felstead and Henseke, 2017). ...
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... It is also apparent that EC could also affect behavioral intention to use a technology that can create positive effect on the environment (environmentally friendly) (Hsu, Lin, Chen, Chang, & Hsieh, 2017). Hence, the intention to accept WFH technologies can also be affected by this variable due to how WFH technologies promote sustainability by reducing gas emission, reducing office space needed, minimizing congestion, and removing the need of more energy on office spaces (Fuhr & Pociask, 2011). Thus, we proposed our last hypothesis: ...
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As Internet adoption and diffusion continues worldwide, little is known about its effects on the restructuring of national urban hierarchies globally. We create a city population panel data with uniform definitions within each of the 133 countries from 2000 to 2018 to study the effect of the Internet on national urban hierarchies and to examine the channels through which the effects take place. Results show that the Internet led to the equalization of urban hierarchies in the early stage and then the polarization. Initially, the Internet helped reduce communication costs, partially replaced transportation, and weakened the agglomeration of enterprises and individuals in large cities, thereby flattening national urban hierarchies. Later, the Internet mainly enhanced the production efficiency and accelerated the shift from manufacturing to services in large cities, thus increasing the large cities' attractiveness and ultimately polarizing the urban hierarchy. Our finding demonstrates that national urban hierarchies are not static and their evolution reflects not only the trade-off between economies of scale and congestion, but increasingly by the Internet—a powerful communication tool. If the trend persists, larger cities will grow at a faster pace than smaller cities and potentially increase regional inequality in countries that have extensively adopted the Internet.
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Teleworking has been identified as a potential key lever for reducing air pollution. Yet, evaluating the atmospheric outcomes of teleworking enhancing policies remains difficult, especially when official databases on telework, household equipment and car emissions are incomplete or nonexistent. Here we propose several techniques to efficiently assess the impact of an increase in teleworking rates, and to explore the resulting bias, in a typical medium-sized European metropolitan area where few data are available: Besançon, France. Population and cartographical data are introduced in an individual-based daily mobility simulation model. We then calculate the resulting emissions for twenty atmospheric pollutants, using three different methodologies that aim to compensate, with different precision levels, for the lack of accurate information regarding vehicle fleets. Our results confirms the efficiency of telework for reducing emissions, with an average reduction of −0.42% in emission for an increase of 1% in teleworking rate. The precision level of data used strongly impacts the estimated quantity of air pollutant emissions (up to a factor ten). Failing to correctly account for inequalities in teleworking rate and equipment between socio-occupational categories introduces strong bias in the results which may degrade the correct evaluation of environmental benefits of teleworking enhancing planning policies.
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Over the past decade Green Human Resource Management (GHRM) has emerged as a growing field of conceptual and empirical work both within, and separate from, the broader topic of Sustainable HRM. As such, we believe it is an opportune time to provide an overview of the Green HRM literature up to 2020, together with a critical consideration of Green HRM into the future. Representing the first meta‐review in the Green HRM field, we surmise key aspects of Green HRM research emerging over the previous decade. We conclude by presenting an exploration of how Green HRM may evolve in the future, and pose the following question: With a myriad of implications from COVID‐19 on business survival and society in general, how will this affect the development of Green HRM? Is it headed towards a roadblock, or revitalisation?
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This study explores the green IT adoption experience of organizations within the business process outsourcing industry in the Philippines using a multi-theory perspective. Through a multiple case study with three organizations, it presents a holistic account of the factors in green IT adoption. This study shows the usefulness of complementarily deploying adoption theory and offers important theoretical and practical implications for organizations as they extend their BPO operations globally. In this study, the authors discovered that technological and organizational context factors have greater positive impact on Green IT adoption within BPO organizations while environmental context factors have lesser impact in decision-making processes.
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There have been surprisingly few attempts to catalogue what is known about the economic impact of information and communications technology (IT). In a new report, ITIF does just that, examining the impact of IT in five key areas: 1) productivity; 2) employment; 3) more efficient markets; 4) higher quality goods and services; and 5) innovation and new products and services. The report finds that the integration of IT into virtually all aspects of the economy and society is creating a digitally-enabled economy that is responsible for generating the lion's share of economic growth and prosperity, both here and abroad, including in developing nations. Importantly, the "IT engine" does not appear likely to run out of gas anytime soon and should power robust growth for at least the next decade, provided that policy makers take the right steps. Toward that end the report lays out five key public policy principles for driving digital prosperity: 1) give the digital economy its due; 2) actively encourage digital innovation and transformation of economic sectors; 3) use the tax code to spur IT investment; 4) encourage universal digital literacy and adoption; and 5) do no harm.
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From 1996 through 2000, the US experienced an unprecedented 2.7% annual reduction in energy intensity. This is three times the rate of the previous 10 years and far higher than the rate projected by traditional energy forecasters. There is increasing data and analysis to support the view that there is a connection between the recent reductions in energy intensity and the astonishing growth in information technology (IT) and the internet economy. Growth in the Internet economy can cut energy intensity in two ways. First, the IT sector is less energy-intensive than traditional manufacturing, so growth in this sector engenders less incremental energy consumption. Second, the internet economy appears to be increasing efficiency in every sector of the economy, which is the primary focus of this paper. The impact of the Internet economy on manufacturing, buildings, and transportation are all explored. The paper also considers the implications for growth in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during the next 10 years. Also, there has been a widely quoted argument put forward by two analysts, Mark Mills and Peter Huber, that the Internet is using a large and rapidly growing share of the nation's electricity, which in turn is supposedly driving an acceleration of overall US electricity demand. That analysis should be rejected as it is based on seriously faulty analysis and is inconsistent with recent data and analyses. Finally, the Bush administration put forward a new approach to US climate change strategy, based on reducing carbon intensity. This paper suggests that such an approach may not lead to reductions in carbon emissions beyond business as usual trends.
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Sumario: The author illustrates that telework is undeniably the corporeate wave of the future on a global level. Telework, or telecommuting, means basically moving the work to the worker instead of the other way around.
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress Congressional Research Service
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B. Yacobuuci, " Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress, " Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2010. http://www.fas.org/ sgp/crs/misc/R40168.pdf
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B. Moyers, " The Outsourcing Debate, " Various Reports, Public Broadcasting Service. www.pbs.org/now/politics/o utsourcedebate.html and www.pbs.org/now/politics/ outsource.html
Climate Change Debate Hinges On Economics
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S. Mufson, " Climate Change Debate Hinges On Economics " Washington Post, July 15, 2007.
Residential Broadband Penetration to Exceed 50%
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Park Associates, " U.S. Residential Broadband Penetration to Exceed 50% in 2007, " 2007. http://www.parksassociat es.com/press/press_releases/2007/dig_lifestyles1.htmlat
Flexibility to the Fullest Workforce Management
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P. J. Kriger, " Flexibility to the Fullest, " Workforce Management, September 25, 2006.
Workers Waste $3.9 Billion Annually by Not Telecommuting
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Rockbridge Associates, " U.S. Workers Waste $3.9 Billion Annually by Not Telecommuting, " July 2006. www. rockresearch.com/news_071206.php [14] Dieringer Research Group, " Telework Trendlines for 2006, " commissioned by WorldatWork, February 2009.
Implementing the Knowledge Economy: The Theory and Practice of Telework
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