The benefits of telework
Being prepared for the future through telework offers many benefits but
appropriate implementation is essential if they are to be
Truly successful projects benefit
Even if only some staff can telework,
an enterprise can still benefit: Aetna Health
in the US gained US$6 million in one year with only 5% of its staff
teleworking. Your benefits will differ
but Telework New Zealand has developed cost-benefit analyses for
many proposed telework programmes. (For more information and a selection
of case studies and web site references that support the benefits listed
on this page, visit our corporate solutions pages.)
The benefits you
can expect include:
managers have reported that their staff are between 8% and 40% more
productive. Teleworkers do more, and better, work - in general.
(And, according to the C Grantham Institute for Study of Distributed
Work, you can get $2 of improved productivity for every $1 spent on
Bell Atlantic Corporation cited that 25 hours spent working at home
is the equivalent of 40 office hours.
A British Telecom Study reported by the Gartner Group indicated that
the average telecommuter works 11% more hours than an office
counterpart. They also found that reduced costs for office space and
other overhead items save employers an additional amount equal to 17% of
annual salary costs.
retention: being able to offer flexibility can reduce staff turnover by up to
20%. With staff replacement costing 75% or more of salary, this is a
significant saving, even before training and retention costs are
considered. (Some observers have calculated that the cost of turnover
and replacing staff is as high as 250% of salary.)
the amount of space you save will depend on many things but savings of
up to 80% have been reported as a direct result of telework. Even a 10% saving in space could be
the difference between profit and loss.
absent staff cost up to $400 a day
(Australian Post) but telework can reduce absenteeism
by as much as 80%.
improvements of 75% have been reported, across the whole
Becoming 'Carbon Neutral': Controlling our business' emissions can have many
benefits. They include practicing environmental responsibility,
creating marketing opportunities, adding value to products and services,
addressing concerns expressed by customers, and responding to supply
chain requirements. Reducing the emissions of a company's
commuting employees is an important part of this. More information
is available at http://www.carbonzero.co.nz.
clients and customers report quicker response and better
heating, air-conditioning, car parks, lighting -- all these costs, and
more, will drop as staff take up telework.
tangible savings alone may be enough to justify
considering a telework programme. But there are many more benefits:
With staff able to start their working day
without first commuting to the office, clients and customers will experience
improved contact and response
to large improvements in
client retention and value.
With the spread of telework,
new markets and services can be promoted. Enterprises can also take
advantage of time zones and improve their service to overseas markets.
With flexible work arrangements and
locations, enterprises are able to react to new
environments, respond to changing staff requirements, and
support new tasks -– without having to reinvent the wheel.
times, better service, lower costs, and happier, more motivated
staff who have long experience with the company, enterprises are better
able to compete in
rapidly changing markets. Such a competitive edge would be hard to gain
in any other way.
The company that implements telework can claim great rewards in the ‘corporate
citizenship’ stakes. The company will be ‘doing its bit' to cut
traffic or reduce power consumption. It will be ‘demonstrating mastery
of the new technologies’. It will be seen as a ‘family-friendly
employer’. Many other slants could be put on the telework
programme. It only takes a bit of imagination …
Telework really is a
smarter way to do business. To find out how your company could
contact us directly for a
Telework is a critical
component of a truly
economy. In a US Government
trial in Puget Sound, telework was shown to reduce net energy
consumption by 10%. No other initiative comes close to this.
eliminates many contemporary problems
at source. Traffic is only one example. (A Washington Post article
published in 2004 cites Laurie Schintler, a George Mason University
assistant professor, who estimates traffic delays in the Washington,
D.C. region drop 10% for every 3% of commuters who work from home.) Infrastructure and service
delivery costs, urban drift, and collapsing urban and city environments
are also good examples.
increases the possible contribution of every citizen to the local and
national economy. It decreases the costs associated with government. It
enhances the ability of citizens to achieve their own objectives.
Most government organisations are employers in their own right and could
gain all the benefits that other employers
Some telework strategies work directly to alleviate the symptoms and
causes of the 'digital divide'.
saves money. Service delivery
is more economic, infrastructure costs are reduced, and productivity is
Telework can also
Physical structures and traditional organisations are cumbersome and
hard to change. Organisations based on location-independent concepts are far
more flexible and adaptable in our rapidly changing world.
A range of telework-inspired ICT development initiatives can be deployed
to achieve fundamental improvements in the
sustainability of remote communities, solving many potential
With more flexible response, more productive enterprises, and the
ability of all individuals to contribute, the region or nation becomes
more competitive and attracts
more employment and development.
- over 70% of teleworkers
claim they are significantly more productive. That means they do more in
less time - saving time or earning more in the same time.
- If you didn't have to
commute every day would you use the time you saved for more work? More
family time? More sleep? It's yours to play with.
savings - Once you add up vehicle fuel and maintenance, lunches and work
clothes, eating out because you didn't have time to cook a proper meal,
and all the other costs of traditional work, you could save a lot of
money by teleworking.
- 'Sick' buildings,
traffic accidents, stress, and more all mean that commuting and
traditional work should carry a health warning.
Home and family
- This is so obvious that it's almost not worth making a point of. For
many people, spending more time with the family or caring for dependent
relatives is the major reason for teleworking. It's an important
- Rather than
continually having to jump to the demands of the traditional work place,
the teleworker can take control, not only over when and where work is
performed but also over the myriad other details of modern life (like
arranging the plumber, getting the car serviced, avoiding the traffic at
holiday weekends, and taking children to the doctor).
Better parks and urban environments
Once telework catches on, there'll be more people in the suburbs meaning
more demand for green spaces. And with lower demand for inner-city real
estate, we could preserve our historic landmarks and relieve pressure on
inner city parking and parks. Downtown areas could become attractive
Improved rural and suburban amenities
More people, from a broader demographic group, working in your area
could mean better bus services and changes to local retail facilities.
The post-office, doctor, bank, or petrol station might be less likely to
close up and move somewhere else. The community comes alive.
- While you work at
home, you can keep an eye on your neighbour's house -- and they could
return the favour. Neighbourhood watch takes on a whole new meaning.
- Showing visitors around,
coping with a new baby, handling illness or injury, even coping with
likely or actual redundancy - telework can make it all easier.
But there will be thorns in your bed of roses:
- For many
people, working on their
own becomes lonely. Teleworking on only some days a week
or working in a telecentre can help solve this problem. There are
other solutions as well, but the first step is to recognise the
potential for loneliness early.
Slower connections - Residential and
rural areas do not generally get the kind of technology support and services that
inner city offices do - and they can be expensive as well. If your
chosen work requires high bandwidth, think carefully about whether a
home office is right for you. Perhaps a local telecentre could help.
- Whether it's a neighbour,
a spouse, a child, the lawn-mowing, the laundry, the TV or the fridge,
there will be distractions in the home office. How you handle them is up
to you but the first step is to recognise that they could wipe out all
your productivity gains.
There are two things that telework is NOT:
Telework is not a cheap and easy form of child-care. If you have
young children, you really ought to plan for child-care at the times you
have to work.
Telework is not a good excuse to take it easy -- to play golf all day
instead of work. You still have to do the work. If you don't, your
experience of telework will be a disaster.
Telework is a critical component in any attempt to build a truly
sustainable local economy. Not only is it
environmentally sound but it enhances local productivity
and the earnings of all residents.
less traffic on the road,
less smog in the air, and
lower demands for urban office space,
existing green spaces and heritage buildings can be preserved. The
value of existing real estate will increase
and those who still travel to the CBD will find a
more attractive office environment.
eliminates many contemporary problems
at source. Infrastructure and service delivery costs in rural settings, population
loss through urban drift, and collapsing local employment are good examples of problems telework approaches can counter.
Telework increases national
increases the possible contribution of citizens to the local
economy and decreases the costs of dependency.
Telecentre developments work directly to alleviate the symptoms and
causes of the 'digital divide'. They facilitate access to information and services,
improving education and training, and supporting new employment
saves money. Service delivery
is more economic, and infrastructure costs are reduced.
With all individuals able to contribute, the community becomes
and attracts more employment
Telework approaches also contribute directly to the viability and
vitality of traditional communities. With more people staying in rural
areas, regional services (restaurants, shopping, post offices, banks,
petrol stations, hospitals, etc.) will also stay,
is provided with a stronger base, policing
becomes cheaper, and many other benefits can flow.
It goes without saying that if we can
residents in a rural community, the community as a whole is
better off. A single family contributes over $13,000 to the local
economy each year. Losing this revenue could be the difference between
survival and collapse for many communities. Telework provides a
framework within which we can bring the world to the community:
individuals will no longer have to leave to take their place in the
Employers have choices:
You could continue to spend on expensive office and car
parking space, pay more to retain staff and miss out on productivity
gains of up to 40% OR you could make telework a normal work
option for your employees -- and gain up to $300,000 per annum, per 100
You could just accept that change will happen, that your
business plans will always be out of date and that the next natural or
unnatural disaster will severely damage your profitability OR you
could ensure that flexibility is built into everything you do -- that
you bend and not break in the inevitable "winds of change".
And you could get far more benefit from your existing
family-friendly or flexible workplace programmes.
Government has choices:
You could continue trying to reduce traffic congestion and
environmental pollution by accommodating the problems OR you could
actively reduce and even eliminate the causes.
You could spend hundreds of millions on public transport or
roading infrastructure that won't deliver benefits for years and will make
the problem worse OR you could reduce the demand for such
infrastructure by up to 10%, within 12 months.
You could continue to suffer the problems of inequitable
development and urban drift OR you could take steps to address the
'digital divide' and provide meaningful education and employment options
in 'remote' areas.
And you could actively support the growth of New Zealand as
a true 'knowledge economy'.
Individuals have choices:
You could continue to commute every day, spending hours
sitting in traffic, not seeing your home or family in daylight, and coping
with the office's distractions OR you could do more work and save
time by working at or near your home a day or two every week, or an hour
or two every day.
You could continue to pay high fuel costs, buy office suits
and pay for city lunches and dinners OR you could save time and
money and get more benefit from your investment in your home.
And you could enjoy a balanced, productive and satisfying
Communities have choices:
You could continue to lose people, services and jobs OR
you could actively create new opportunities for your residents.
You could continue to suffer from not having access to the
benefits available elsewhere in the country OR you could develop
smart, practical approaches to providing information and communication
technology for the whole community.
And you could strengthen the networks and capabilities of
the whole community by identifying and building on the strengths and
resources you already have.