Telecommuting has been referred to as being the next big information technology (IT) trend. This trend aside from having financial benefits also reaps environmental benefits. The majority of people wanting or deciding to telecommute, wish to do so in order to avoid lengthy commutes by road, rail or otherwise. Telecommuting has the potential to provide significant transportation-related public benefits.
(www.cnn.com) “Telecommuting is now practiced by approximately 2 million workers and could reach 7.5 to 15 million within a decade.” (http://ntl.bts.gov) These 2 million workers, now being removed form the highways, can substantially improve the congestion and air quality. Potential beneficial transportation impacts of telecommuting include reduction in highway congestion and associated lost time, reduced emission of pollutants, savings in energy and petroleum consumption, and fewer highway accidents.
Computer and telecommunications advances in recent years, including computer networks and data systems, FAX machines, and electronic mail, have dramatically widened the choice of workplace for information workers and others so they can work wherever these tools are available, including at home. These technological enhancements have provided greater worker flexibility, empowerment of employees, and a reduction I of frustration from the irritation and time loss associated with commuting. “One result is that a substantial portion of the U.S. labor force, perhaps as much as 30 percent, now works at home at least part of the time.” (http://www.telecommute-now.org/telecommuting)
Telecommuting does not necessarily mean that employees work at home. Satellite “telework” centers near or in residential areas, fully equipped with appropriate telecommunications equipment and services, can serve employees of single or multiple firms. These telework centers are usually developed based on geographical data rather than business functions. In many cases a shared facility provides a more practical and satisfactory location for telecommuting than the home, and a setting less threatening to traditional business management styles. Telecommuting is often practiced as little as one or two days each week, although it can be full-time. Telecommuters are primarily managers or professionals. However, telecommuting is highly popular to most information workers.
Traffic congestion can have direct and indirect cost impacts on business activities. The direct costs of congestion that affect production costs include additional labor costs associated with longer trips made by employees during business hours, higher vehicle operating costs, and suboptimal vehicle use. “The trucking industry is both a contributor to and victim of traffic congestion. According to FHWA officials, the annual cost of truck delays on freeways is between $4.2 and $7.6 billion, based on vehicle operating costs and driver time charges.
Time losses on urban streets, docking areas, etc. could range between $19.4 and $22.9 billion (excluding costs to industry such as lost sales opportunities in not having products available on time).” (U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO). 2001. Traffic Congestion: Trends, Measures, and Effects.) Indirect costs of traffic congestion include increases in accidents and insurance premiums, reduced or loss of employee productivity, and increases in delivery costs. The removal of telecommuters’ vehicles from the highways will reduce overall congestion. All vehicles on those now less-congested roads will operate more efficiently, cleanly and safely, and the occupants will suffer less delay.
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