2012-10-02

Co.Exist

Want To Work From Home? Calculate How Much You'll Save Your Company And Yourself

A new tool looks at various factors about you, your commute, and your company and can spit back a usually jaw-dropping number about how much money you would keep in your pocket if your work arrangement got more flexible.

Working at home is not a privilege, it’s a business case. So goes the argument from a growing number of advocates of telecommuting, including office-less entrepreneurs who’ve done well on the home front and technology firms eager to sell the enabling IT infrastructure.

Yet calculating how much employers save, and all of us benefit, by not going to work every day is not easy. Hundreds of variables, and dozens of databases, must be considered. A new calculator by Govloop and HP is simplifying the process of laying out the economic rationale for a leaner workplace where more things get done by trading the commuter for the computer.

Compiled from various federal databases and studies, the teleworking calculator uses time and distance traveled each day, vehicle type, and the number of telecommuting days to calculate your savings and productivity gains. Although intended for government employees, it lays out a case for almost anyone trying to trade their office for home. Someone who drives an SUV to work (20 miles, one hour each way) can save $5,000 and gain another $5,000 in productivity by swapping three days at home. For employers, the deal could be even better: Govloop says the average employer spends about $10,000 in energy, real estate, and production costs per employee annually, while the (not unbiased) American Telecommuting Association claims teleworkers show 10% to 15% improved productivity in nearly every related study over the past two decades.

There’s not a definitive answer on where telecommuting works best, and where it doesn’t. Anyone working at home knows that perils lurk around every corner: a sink full of dirty dishes, insistent pets, interrupting children, and the lure of distractions are everywhere. But—in different ways—these are plentiful at work too. Engineering your environment at home can eliminate many of these perils. At least one Stanford study (PDF) in China found working from home increased performance by 13%, and cut attrition by 50%.

So want to see if it works for you, and convince your boss to give it a shot? You can check out the calculator from Govloop and HP, or try these from the National Institute of Health (Excel), Seattle’s commuter challenge, or one from Kelly Services that peers deep into your soul to find out where you really spend your money. It counts the annual cost of work clothes, shoes, and accessories, as well as attending office social events. Good luck talking to your boss.

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6 Comments

  • Victoria-Instant Rewards

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  • Steve

    Need to go back to your calculations folks.  The calculator said I would save $46.96 per year in vehicle saving by telecomuting one day per week.  Excuse me?  I don't need a fancy calculator to know I could save that much in a month, not a year.  These figures are way off.  Try again.

  • Colin

    Another way to offer your employer a telecommuting savings incentive is using TransparentBusiness.com. I use this service for all my clients as it allows each on to see what I have done and when I did it. This service works in real time and used the cloud so tracking can be done anywhere. This ends any speculation of me over-billing and I have been able to land more contracts as a result of this tool. 

  • Heather

    Better than the savings in gas and commuting costs is the hours I've regained by not wasting time commuting. For me, that represents almost 400 hours a year I can spend sleeping, visiting with friends and family, running errands -- or yes, working more.

  • guest

    This does not take into account additional costs of electrical use or heating/cooling at home when someone is there during the day. We use setback thermostats. When no one is home, the indoor temp during a winter day is 60 degrees; if someone is home we need to heat that space. Reverse that for cooling in the summer. Likewise, what is the cost of running a computer all day at our expense? Some of that $10,000 the employer is spending is shifted to the employee to cover. So the $500 saved auto fuel expense may be eaten up by other fuel expenses

  • i Know Films

    I just started working from home yesterday, so good time with this article!! Working from home saved me the costs of moving from Indiana to Kansas, so I think I've saved quite a bit already.