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Telecommuting could save U.S. government $11 billion a year

big savings in telecommuting

$11 billion a year.

Let’s think about that total for a minute.

The U.S. national debt is $16.9 trillion and increases every second. While $11 billion is a lot to you and me, it’s a drop in the bucket to the national debt.

But every little bit helps.

So why wouldn’t we take the necessary steps to curb spending wherever we can … no matter whether we’re the U.S. government, the Canadian, the Australian, or wherever in the world you are.

A white paper released earlier this month by Global Workplace Analytics reports that telecommuting, if effectively implemented, could save taxpayers more than 11 billion a year.

Federal Telework — Return on Taxpayer Investment and its assumptions are based on the firm’s database of more than 4,000 case studies and other documents.

I can hear you asking the question: how can sending employees home to work save that much money year over year?

Real Estate

Technology has changed how and where we work. We don’t need to be tied to a cubicle. We don’t even need to make the morning commute into the office building.

A solid telecommuting program can help government agencies and departments “consolidate inefficient space and reduce the capital drain of owning or leasing a building,” the white paper reads.

They can reduce their costs with strategies that combine telework with desk sharing and office hoteling.

Existing teleworkers help U.S. government agencies save $194 million a year. Increasing the number of workers on a telecommuting program could expand that number to between $876 million a year and $3.6 billion a year. Those numbers don’t include other savings which could come from reductions in energy costs, parking facility costs, furniture, supplies, maintenance, security, janitorial services, insurance, taxes and other costs.


You’ll get more out of your taxpayer dollars by fostering a more productive environment for employees.

Global Workplace Analytics’ (GWA) compilation of studies and surveys show organizations get more work out of their telecommuting employees. They experience:

✓ Fewer interruptions and distractions than their in-office employees
✓ Better time management and improved communications
✓ A sense of empowerment in their duties
✓ Increased job satisfaction
✓ Flexible hours that allow them to work when they are most productive
✓ Increased commitment and willingness to ‘go the extra mile’

    Based on the numbers GWA crunched, existing teleworkers currently generate $770 million in savings a year, thanks to their productivity levels. With more government employees working from home, that could reach between $3.5 billion and $5.8 billion a year.

    Absenteeism savings

    We’ve written before that telecommuters take fewer sick days. There are a number of reasons why an employee takes an absentee or sick day, but we know they cost money in staffing redundancies, increased overtime costs, inconvenienced
    coworkers and customers, lower morale and reduced productivity.

    The less sick days an employee takes, the better.

    Among the studies cited by GWA, Wake Forest University surveyed more than 3,000 employees and learned that those with flexible schedules were less likely to have health problems that affect their job performance.

    The savings accumulated by existing teleworkers in the U.S. government is $212 million a year. With reduced absenteeism projected by GWA, the government could save between $955 million and $1.3 billion a year.

    “Additional savings are possible through reductions in ‘presenteeism’, replacement costs, overtime, and customer impacts,” the white paper says.

    Turnover impact

    Happy employees don’t look for ‘better’ opportunities and they don’t quit due to excessive stress and workloads.

    They love their jobs and they love the companies they work for.

    And replacing an employee is expensive. There’s an investment of time and money in recruiting, temporary replacement of the departed worker, training costs for the new hire and lost productivity.

    The GWA white paper cited a Cisco survey of 2,600 worldwide employees. Of the total, two out of three would take a job with less pay and more flexibility in device usage, access to social media and mobility than a higher-paying job without such flexibility. Ninety-one per cent said telecommuting was ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important to their overall job satisfaction.

    Telework currently saves the federal government $22 million a year. Add more telecommuting programs to the total, and it could reach between $97 million and $137 million year.

    There’s more

    The federal government stands to save even more money in transit subsidies, continuity of operations in the event of a disaster, tragedy or other disruption of service, health care, technology and a broad range of other costs.

    If you want to dig into all the savings, go to Global Workplace Analytics and download the entire white paper. GWA will soon be releasing another part to the study, entitled Federal Telework: Obstacles and Opportunities.

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