Increased telework can reduce congestion on Twin Cities metropolitan freeways, save money for businesses and motorists and positively impact the environment. That is the goal of a new program announced today by the University of Minnesota in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
If 2,700 Minnesotans teleworked just one day per week, more than 1,000 rush hour trips on Twin Cities highways each day would be eliminated, said Nick Thompson, Mn/DOT project manager.
Minnesotans will start seeing and hearing about the value of telework when a campaign launches today online and on radio and outdoor billboards.
The campaign, called eWorkPlace, directs businesses and individuals to log on to eworkplace-mn.com for free training, tools and tips. For a limited time, employers can register to learn about participating in a pilot program. Qualifying employers for the pilot programs will also be eligible for free or discounted personalized professional consulting to launch or expand telework at their workplace.
The website lists the benefits of teleworking for employers:
- Increased employee productivity
- Enhanced recruitment and retention
- Greater geographic flexibility
- Reduced cost of real estate and overhead
- Reduced absenteeism
- Expanded access to talented people
- Better resiliency economic and disaster
- Opportunity to provide employees soft dollar perks
Benefits for employees:
- Save drive time
- Save money on gas and parking
- Greater productivity
- Enhanced quality of life
- Reduced cost of living expenses
- Greater economic opportunity for lower income households and people with disabilities
And benefits for the community:
- Improved air quality
- Energy conservation
- Improved highway safety
- Reduced number of rush hour work trips which contribute to traffic congestion
- Maximized infrastructure investment
- Energy and environmental benefits (less gas used, reduced green house gas emissions and carbon footprints)
I suspect that we will start seeing similar programs all across the country. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is considered a leader among federal offices for it’s implementation of a telework program. At the end of fiscal year 2007, 3,609 USPTO employees participated in some form of telework. That’s up about 59% from 2006 and represents 40.7% slice of the office’s total workforce.
The USPTO said its home workers are helping save more than 613,000 gallons of gas, prevent 9,600 tons of emissions, and save over $1.8 million annually in fuel costs.
Canada wants more teleworking too. Amy Minsky of the Canwest News Service writes that
The number of telecommuters – employees who work from home – is increasing in Canada, according to Robyn Bews, project manager for Workshift, a telework- promotion initiative. The federal government announced last week it would contribute $800,000 to the Calgary-based project.
This is a very encouraging trend.