|My Idea for a Greener California|
It has to start somewhere. The year is 2008, its time...
So, I'm sitting here in a telcon with one of my fav clients and we're talking about this and that. The topic of "Telecommuting" comes up and we talked a bit about the situation here in California. We have this entire generation, the Baby Boomers, who are used to doing things the "old fashioned way" which is fine, it works and has for quite some time. But, the technology is here today to help you as a company become more efficient and in turn contribute to a Greener California. This applies to all localities and not just CA.
I've worked with various businesses here in California for almost 20 years now. I've seen them grow, falter, pick up and grow again, etc. I've seen some remain in the same "state of mind" that they were ten years ago and it is now having a major impact on their business operations and they are being "forced" to change as opposed to being proactive and "changing with the times".
I've talked with people who are driving an average of 3 to 4 hours each day to and from work. They do this so they can cut back on their cost of living by residing in another county where property values are more affordable. They then endure the 3 to 4 hours of driving each and every day, five days a week. That's 15 to 20 hours of driving time. Let's do a little bit of math...
In this particular example, we have a person driving 35 miles one way to work, a total of 70 miles each day. In California traffic, that 35 miles is probably going to take upwards of 45-60 minutes depending on your route, it could be less and it could be more. I'm going to use the 70 miles as the benchmark for the daily commute. This person drives a Toyota Camry so the gas mileage is fairly decent at an average of 22 to 25 miles per gallon. That's 2.8 gallons of fuel per day at an average of $4.00 per gallon and a cost of $11.20. Its costing them $56.00 per week just in fuel.
Just think about the waste factor above. Not only do we have the fuel issue, but we have time. Time is money. There's 20 hours of travel time (equates to $1,200 per week in this instance) that could have been better spent working from a remote location, logging into the corporate intranet to grab the latest news, whatever! The overall effect of this one change would be dramatic!
Why must we continue in this "old fashioned mindset" where employees are required to endure the increasing costs of living while they are not being compensated at the same rate? Why can't we move more towards the "Telecommuting" business model? Just think of the sheer amount of financial savings involved by allowing an employee to work from home just three (03) days a week to begin with?
Yes, I know, there are companies doing this. But, not enough of them. At the rate we're going, the squeeze will most likely end up on the smaller and medium size employers to do this particular thing. It would surely relieve some of the congestion here in California. And, it would contribute to the cleaning up of our "not so healthy" air quality. I'm all for it! Why isn't everyone else?
I completely agree!
And it's not just the commute time- it's the "recovery" time as well. In other words, the amount of time after you finish the commute (both directions) that it takes to calm down and get rid of all the stress built up from sitting in traffic, being cut off by maniacs driving too fast (and cutting off idiots driving too slow), and dealing with all the stupid looky-loos who have to slow down and look at the traffic accident. On a bad traffic day, you may not be able to reduce the stress level to normal until you actually go to bed and sleep it off.
Although I am all for the concept, I also know that not all people (and not all jobs) are cut out for telecommuting. There are some people who simply can not work (or work less efficiently) when unsupervised. (Yet at the same time, people who are exactly the opposite are working inefficiently by being forced into working under rigid conditions.)
And of course there are a number of jobs that simply can't be telecommuted (police, fire, etc).
But yes, with some creative thinking, planning, training, and effort, businesses could certainly be doing a LOT more than they are now. And with the current increase in gas prices, this is indeed an excellent time for businesses to push the concept hard.
Realistically, though, I suspect it will be another half generation or so before the concept really takes off. I see baby boomer managers/owners as being very inflexible and difficult to accept new working ways. But the next generations of workers are more comfortable with working without a lot of "face time" and collaborating remotely.
In the UK, it costs $2 per litre @ $8 per gallon.
So remunerate people with the work they output. They output less, they get paid less....... and for those who need a "work environment" to work - switch off the lights, put on the speakers and the surround visual monitors and voila.
What d'ya think?
I had a Baby Boomer manager who allowed me to telecommute 2 days a week. We were connected the entire time via instant messenger and email, and he could see when I was signed in and available. Work was getting done, I wasn't letting anything fall through the cracks because I was motivated to maintain my plum arrangement. Yet he never truly believed that I was working when I wasn't in his view.
I would choose an employer that offers telecommuting over one that doesn't in a heartbeat. Forward-thinking companies should be capitalizing on today's climate of high gas prices and global warming hysteria by using telecommuting as a strategy to attract highly qualified talent. Advertise telecommuting positions on the corporate web site, write some press releases, get lots of goodwill PR - everyone wins.
>> Why can't we move more towards the "Telecommuting" business model?
DANGER WILL ROGERS - SORE SPOT
I know most would be employees would jump on this - any lazy bum wanna be would. You get to laze around and work maybe a few hours and charge the company for twice as much as you may actually work. Heck, it's value based anyway right? Maybe you'll send out a few emails that shift the responsibility to the client or your co-workers by asking a question so it looks legitimate when in actuality you were too darn lazy to go get the answer yourself even though you are fully capable. Then you can skip out for the afternoon and play golf or go skiing.
Please excuse me for raining on the parade POR but I've had my fill of freeloaders and telecommuting is full of them. I've dealt with several folks in good faith because I thought telecommuting to be a good working model too. But then reality hit me. I'm not saying it can't work - but it's not for me and anyone on my team. We work closely, as in we want to be able to speak a bit louder and be heard clearly without having to call. I want to know the person I'm working with by face, by movement, by eating habits as well as by name. Telecommuting may work good for conscientious employees and employers but it too damn inefficient and costly for the masses. I certainly won't consider it again.
|You get to laze around and work maybe a few hours and charge the company for twice as much as you may actually work |
Moving from a mindset of hours worked to objectives completed helps!
I've sat and watched too many people creatively fill their working hours to justify their 9 to 5 existence. My own favourite is WebmasterWorld!
I have no problem with people slacking off once they have completed their allotted tasks.
|I've sat and watched too many people creatively fill their working hours to justify their 9 to 5 existence. My own favourite is WebmasterWorld! |
Don't we all? :)
I think a greater output can be achieved by making a good use of all the good ideas appropriately.
Telecommuting can work for tasks that time can be clearly determined for.
Encouraging people to move closer to work areas when possible, I believe, could also be a great help in reducing traffic, time and resources wasted.
My commute is brutal, I have to walk down a flight of stairs from the bedroom. Actually I don't have to even get out of bed, but I hate working off a laptop and the coffee maker is in the kitchen ;~)
With my current main client/contract, which is regrettably about to be credit-crunched, I work alternate days in the office (sometimes the trading floor, sometimes not) and from home with teleworking.
Apart from saving 3 hours round-trip (albeit by public transport, it's still 3 hours and 7kWh wasted) the remote access means that I can run when NOT billing multi-hour tests that I would otherwise have to run in person at my desk and do precious-little else at the same time as. And if I get a good idea in the middle of the evening I can spend 10 minutes of it while it's fresh.
Plus I give the client back most of the commuting time saved, ie they get 9 hours when I'm at home, for my normal 8-hours-in-the-office rate.
Shame it's coming to an end...
|Just think of the sheer amount of financial savings involved by allowing an employee to work from home just three (03) days a week to begin with? |
An excellent suggestion, but... I thought we were talking about this kind of thing happening in the near-future back in 2000?!
I'm genuinely surprised things haven't moved faster.
Personally, I've gone from commuting to an office (2000-2002) to having a home office (2003-2005) to having an office the size of a laptop (2006-2008) and as soon as I can find affordable technology (this year, I reckon) I'm looking to have an office that fits in my pocket.
After that I suppose I'll be looking to have an office that projects from a pair of visors (a reality by 2012?).
The technology is around now that anyone who does freelance, information based work (graphic designers, architects, accountants, reporters, programmers, columnists, translators, scriptwriters, playwrights, authors, proofreaders, editors, web designers and probably a hundred other professions) can already skip the commute entirely and work not only from home, but also in the local coffee shop, in the park, on the beach etc.
I suppose the tricky thing is teaching someone who has the mindset of an in-house employee how to have the mindset of a freelancer.
Perhaps that's as simple as only paying by results.
I don't see telecommuting exploding wider than IT and programming job functions. The bulk of jobs across many industries will always have to be accomplished in traditional workspaces. So the practical way to green the workday, and make a significant impact, is to green the process of getting workers to the office.
My idea for a Greener California is to tax the hell out of gasoline at the pump and throw the tax money at public transportation. Then issue a tax credit to businesses for purchasing monthly public transportation passes. If possible, add a $1 surcharge on all toll roads and bridges Monday - Friday and use the money to fund public transportation projects.
- Will encourage new car purchases of sensible autos
- Will result in cleaner air from less people driving smog producing SUVs
- Will create jobs from the construction of buses and railcars to the personnel running the public transportation.
- Will make it easier for companies to hire employees who live in suburbs
- Make it easier for suburbanites to get to work
- The ability to ride PT to work from the suburbs will increase demand for outlying homes, increasing home equity
- May encourage telecommuting, lol.