Telecommuting Web Resources

With a fairly long commute (45 miles each way) and gas above $3 per gallon I have been doing a little homework on telecommuting, also known as telework.

The Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration have some extensive telework resources for federal employees. The site is full of great information including resources for identifying good candidates for telework, maintaining a good working environment when some employees telework and others do not, and evaluating the performance of teleworkers.

More pertinent to higher education, the University of Minnesota has much of their telecommuting policies and agreements available online at this page including a supervisor’s toolkit for implementing telecommuting. They outline the following potential benefits of telecommuting:

• Supports the Clean Air Act/Reduces air pollution
• Reduces traffic congestion, fuel consumption
• Supports the Americans with Disabilities Act
• Provides more job opportunities for the disabled, part-time, and semi-retired
University Units:
• Enhances employee productivity and work quality
• Increases long-term recruiting, retention, and loyalty of employees
• Improves employee morale and job satisfaction
• Increases workforce diversity by widening of labor pool
• Reduces overhead costs, especially in capital investments
• Reduces employee sick leave and absenteeism
• Enhances employer image in partnership with 21st century
• Enables employees to work during weather emergencies
• Enhances job productivity and work quality
• Improves morale and job satisfaction
• Provides greater degree of responsibility
• Provides greater lifestyle flexibility in meeting family and job needs
• Reduces commuting time and stress
• Reduces transportation costs
• Provides satisfaction from greater employer trust

Of course there are more resources out there, but I believe these two are a good starting point for any employer or employee.

While my institution does not recognize telecommuting, well, let’s just say I’ve still been doing a lot of thinking about it. Hey, it’s better than looking for another job…

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Time is Energy

Time is energy, or at least that’s the theory.

On Friday, July 21, Congress approved an energy bill which included a motion to extend daylight-savings time by four weeks (originally the bill intended to extend daylight-savings by eight weeks.) Historically, daylight-savings time begins on the first Sunday in April and runs through the last Sunday in October. The new energy bill will change daylight-savings to begin the second Sunday in March and end the first weekend in November. The change is intended to go into place in March 2007.

The hope is that the change will help conserve energy by requiring less lighting in the early evening during the extended daylight-savings period. As an IT professional I am left wondering how many of our systems are going to require patching to compensate for the change. This is no Y2K, but think about all the systems out there which will require updating. International airlines are already expressing concerns about scheduling international flights after the change.

What does this really mean? In 2007 we will be changing our clocks ahead on March 11th instead of April 1st. On March 10th of that year sunrise will be at 6:08 a.m. and sunset will be at 5:46 p.m. March 11th, after the change, sunrise will be at 7:06 a.m. and sunset will be 6:47 p.m. Similarly we would “fall-back” on November 4th when sunset will go from 5:36 p.m. on the 3rd to 4:34 on the 4th.

Of course most of us have the lights on before sunset, but you get the idea. Energy savings aside it seems like this could provide an interesting study on seasonal affective disorder. It may also prove to prevent accidents by allowing more people to commute home in daylight.

While I will probably enjoy the extra daylight, I wonder if the energy savings will even remotely offset the technical and political costs of this change.

With people commuting to work further than ever before, perhaps it is time to start considering a tax credit, for both employees and employers, for telecommuting some days of the week or working four 10 hour days instead of five 8 hour days. What would be the energy savings if we could cut the commuting costs and environmental impact of one out of ten people by 20%? That sounds better than an extra hour of daylight to me. has a great exhibit for some more reading and history on Daylight-Savings Time.

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