Employers who allow telecommuting 2 days per week
on average realise a 20% increase in productivity,
save 15% in real estate costs, and see a 7%
reduction on absenteeism according a new study by
the US-based Telework Research Network (TRN).
report, titled The Shifting Nature of Work in the
UK, concludes that current regulations that
promote home-based working and other forms of
flexibility as a special accommodation for parents
The UK ranks 12th among EU
nations in percentage of employees who regularly
work at home. While 12.8% of the workforce as a
whole work mainly from home, only 4.9 per cent of
the labour force do so despite two-thirds of UK jobs
being telework compatible. It seems it’s
increasingly normal for the self-employed to work
from home, but UK employers are lagging behind and
not seeing the opportunities.
Those companies that have successfully integrated
telework have found it is good for business, good
for employees, good for the environment, and good
for the economy. And this report puts numbers
on the benefits.
Measuring the impacts
The report divides the impacts up into several
different areas, and uses data from a wide range of
sources to calculate the impacts. The areas of
- Employer Benefits
- Productivity Impact
- Real Estate and Electricity Impact
- Absenteeism Impact
- Attraction and Retention Impact
- Employee Benefits
- Petrol Expense Impact
- Other Work Expense Impact
- Time Savings
- Community Savings
- Oil Impact
- Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Impact
- Traffic & Accident Impact
- Other Community Benefits
In each case the report sets out its assumptions
about uptake and sources of base data and makes
calculations for the impacts.
The main employer benefits come from increased
(teleworking 2 days per week, for 50 people, 100,
500 and by
% of UK workforce who could telework 2 days per
reduced property costs - providing they
switch to desk-sharing:
and reduced absenteeism:
Overall, employers could save around £3k per 2-day
teleworker per year.
The authors also
argue that the government should. take a lead -
having civil servants work from home on average 2
days per week could generate an annual 1.25 billion
saving in property costs.
On average, home working just 2 days
a week would save employees between £220 and £2,900
per year—the result of reduced driving and fewer
work-related expenses (food, clothes, parking,
petrol and other vehicle costs for drivers, and
rail/coach fare for other commuters).
Across the UK that would add up to total employee
savings of between £4.7 billion to £18 billion a
year—money that could go toward savings or be
reinvested in the economy.
weekly home working can add up to 4 working weeks of
free time a year. Other studies have found
that teleworkers tend to split the saved time
between work and home activities - it's a key factor
in studies that report increased output from
In this study 'community impacts'
includes wider social, economic and environmental
impacts, such as reduced oil imports, accident
reduction and greenhouse gasses. Headline benefits
15 million fewer barrels of oil
Reducing greenhouse gasses by
6.2m tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to
taking 2.5 million cars off the road
Prevent over 28,000 traffic
injuries and deaths each year and save over £900
million a year in accident-related costs.
Can we believe it?
The report is the first to attempt
to measure the potential impacts across such a wide
range of indicators. And in doing that it
raises many issues. Whenever studies attempt
to aggregate impacts up to national or international
level, there are always questions about the
assumptions, the base data and the methodology.
But the approach is a valid one. The
assumptions and data sources are spelt out. It
provides an excellent starting point for people who
want to challenge the data and assumptions, and find
ways of testing it.
companies and individuals, there is much food for
thought here about how to improve company
performance and how to improve quality of life.