Sunday, April 13, 2008

Want to Be Green? Work From Home

I'll make this prediction: In 10 years, more than half of white-collar employees will be working from home. The number of workers who work from home is on the rise. There are several reasons, and those reasons will be even more influential in the future:

1) Technology. Faster Internet connections, better video and voice conferencing technologies, and cheaper computers for home offices contribute to the trend.

2) Productivity. Some people commute for hours a day. Imagine if that time could be used working instead. And, if you work in a cube, you know how distracting hearing someone else's phone conversation can be.

3) Employee-happiness. This one speaks for itself.

4) Cost. I saved the most important for last. Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs, and working from home is a way to cut costs, and it saves the employee money too. If more workers work from home, the business doesn't have to pay for as much office space, including utility bills. If you think about it, leaving your house and going to work is a horrible waste of space and energy. For the whole time you are at work, your home is still there, taking up space and energy for no purpose. Even if you have family at home, your home is still big enough for you also, so why not use the space?

But not only does it save the business money (and here's the main point of my post) but it saves the employee money also. As gas prices skyrocket, businesses will increasingly realize that giving employees the opportunity to work from home is a bigger perk than it used to be. You thought your hybrid was saving the environment? How about not driving at all (well, for work anyway)?

And I believe this will be only a piece in a larger trend of a cutback on transportation. Grocery delivery will become more popular, since it is more efficient for one person to travel the neighborhood and drop off goods than it is for everyone in the neighborhood to drive to the grocery store. Locally grown foods will become more cost effective. More choices for entertainment will appear in even small towns, as residents are less willing to drive to larger cities.

All of these changes, which are positive in my opinion, depend on one thing: the free market. These changes will have much more impact than government-mandated fuel-efficiency standards, but these changes will occur as a result of unregulated market forces.

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