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About Telework

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As telework is adopted on a larger scale, benefits to the community, and the environment, accrue:

The Environment: Roughly a pound of C02 emissions is avoided for each mile not driven. Based on the national average of an 81% drive-alone rate, the commute carbon footprint at US companies per 1,000 employees is 2,072 tons. Washington State is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The State has launched a vigorous program to reduce emissions.

Keep in mind that the ozone layer doesn't care where the greenhouse gases come from: CO2 generated in the suburbs and rural parts of the state is just as damaging as that generated in cities. So, everyone, rural areas and cities, businesses and citizens, will need to make changes to reach State goals.

Highway Infrastructure Costs: Beyond the frustration and pollution caused by traffic congestion, there are ever increasing costs associated with road and bridge construction. Obviously, the fewer people on the road, the less the need for construction. Construction costs are not limited to construction alone, but also to mitigation of delays and interruptions caused by construction. As an example, the Washington State Department of Transportation has budgeted $9.6 million for mitigation during the six week closure of the Hood Canal Bridge (May-July 2009). Since mitigation costs are driven by traffic volume, increasing telework would lower mitigation costs.

If you are an employer that will one day be affected by bridge or road closure (think Alaska Way Viaduct or 520 Bridge), start getting your telework plan in place now. You'll need time to learn about telework, build a program, and get all the kinks out of the system before letting significant numbers of employees telework. Don't wait until road closure is just around the corner.

Disaster Recovery: After the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, millions of dollars were spent helping businesses and communities to recover. Most of that money was related to construction. However, for businesses there is a loss of revenue, and for government offices an interruption of service, when workers are not able to access their work. Building often must remain closed until inspected, and in some cases closed for long periods until structural improvements are made. While telework is only a small part of a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), it is a way for work to continue, at least marginally, until normal operations can be restored. The effect of such planning on a broad scale can have a huge benefit to communities in the event of a disaster.

Social Benefit: If a single teleworker can save an hour or two a week in commute time (and some can save much more than that) they are better able to attend a child's after-school event, help a child with homework, or participate in a community or neighborhood activity. Multiply that by a thousand or ten thousand teleworkers in a community. Although difficult to measure, there must be an accrued social benefit to the community. There are other benefits for the community at large: less traffic on the streets, safer neighborhoods (because people are home during the day), a more tech-savvy population, and of course, cleaner air.

From the Study

Participants in the Telework Pilot Project saved, on average, 32 miles of travel, 1.43 gallons of gasoline, and 27.73 pounds of CO2 each day they teleworked. The amount of CO2 emitted during the commute was much higher for those that live and work in Kitsap County (25.95 lbs per day) than for those that live and work in King County (6.63 lbs per day), because Kitsap workers drive to work, while most employees in King County use transit for most of the commute.


In the Toolkit

For more information about Continuity of Operations, see the links on the toolkit's Authors & Articles page.


On the Web

Washington State Climate Change Website

Governor Gregoire's Executive Order, May 2009

WSU's Climate & Rural Energy Development Center

Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment

WSDOT's Climate Change Page

WSDOT's Alaska Way Viaduct Page

WSDOT's SR-520 Bridge Page

About the Telework Pilot Project

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This page was last updated on July 8, 2009