Hello there, and welcome to another pledge in MNN's WorldShares, an interactive program that helps you create and accomplish easy and Earth-friendly personal goals. With each goal that you tackle, you will earn WorldShares points that will be turned into donations to your favorite nonprofit eco-charity.
This WorldShare pledge involves something that a whole lot of us fantasize about (I’ll never have to put on pants again!), a whole lot of us fear (well hello there, cabin fever!) and an increasing number of us — roughly 20 million members of the American workforce — actually do on a regular or a semi-regular basis: work from home or, in less glamorous terms, telecommute.
Although it’s decidedly not for everyone, shuffling to your den, spare bedroom, kitchen table, mom cave, or backyard office pod at least once a week to perform something that you’d otherwise have to travel to an office space to do can dramatically decrease you business-related carbon footprint. And what about those of us who get all gussied up for work on a regular, nine-to-five basis in an actual office space and regularly travel for meetings? By urging your employer to allow you to teleconference instead of hop on a plane to Topeka or Taipei, you’ll curb your own carbon footprint while enhancing productivity and saving your company a few precious bucks on what would otherwise be spent on airfare, hotels and tasteless breakfast buffets.
A couple things to consider before committing to this pledge (with your employer’s full consent, of course … we wouldn’t want anyone becoming unemployed in the name of reduced carbon emissions):
Number crunching: To get a better idea of the dramatic eco-impact that telecommuting can have, take a look at some figures: According to a 2007 study conducted by TIAX for the Consumers Electronic Association titled The Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Telecommuting and e-Commerce (PDF), 3.9 million American work-from-homers reduce gasoline consumption by about 840 million gallons. In turn, the emission of nearly 14 millions tons of carbon dioxide is prevented, the equivalent of removing 2 million vehicles from the road every year. Not too shabby at all.
It isn’t all pajama pants and “All My Children” breaks: As evidenced by PGi Social Media Manager Lea Green, working from home “isn’t for the faint of heart” and takes some careful easing into. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind: Telecommuting isn’t “a euphemism for slacking off during the day.” To ensure that you don’t transform into a 21st-century telecommuting version of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” Green recommends that work-from-home-newbies minimize distractions, create a comfortable, energy-efficient workspace (MNN home blogger Matt has several green-minded suggestions on this topic), keep co-workers informed, install wireless at home (or at least consider it) and, perhaps most importantly, create a routine and stick to it.
It can be healthier for us: It’s no big secret that telecommuting can decrease carbon emissions while increasing profits (home-related carbon emissions can increase slightly, however) but did you know that working from home can improve your work-life balance? By not spending hours behind the wheel to and from an office block where you often burn the midnight oil day-in and day-out, you can avoid fatigue, lost time with friends and loved ones and increased expectations from your employer. Yep, the employee who works from home is often the happier, healthier and, ultimately, more productive one as long as he or she stays physically active, regularly uses video and web conferencing tools and stays plugged into the “virtual water cooler” through social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
Ready to lead a more productive, profitable and healthier career from the comfort of your own home? Go on and pledge to reduce your business-related carbon footprint by telecommuting at least a few days a month (in cooperation with your employer of, course.) And please, seasoned work-from-homers, feel free to get back to us with any recommendations about how you made telecommuting work for you.
Environmental Leader, "U.S. telecommuters save $840 million gallons of gas per year"
More WorldShares pledges to consider:
- I will actually use my reusable bags.
- Once a week, I will walk one place instead of driving.
- I will make my home more energy-efficient in 2012.
- I will get my kids (and myself!) outside more this year.
- I will do a toxin audit of my home.
- I will support my town's local and green businesses this year.
- I will eat more meals at home.
- I will read three environmentally themed books this year.
- Instead of throwing them away, I will recycle my old electronics before buying new ones.