Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Saving the world one way at a time.

I sit and think often of how I could save the world. I think about those best case, if it were a perfect world situations. One of the ideas I've been thinking about a lot lately is working from home. Here is a quick thought analysis of what it would mean if companies actually allowed people to work from home.

How many gallons and miles could be saved by allowing people to work from home?
Software developers are geeks to start with and most likely already all have broadband internet connections. I personally drive 27 miles each way each day. My car gets a wonderful 30 MPG, so to keep the numbers simple I use 2 gallons of gas a day getting to and from work. Currently ($2.60) that's 5.20 a day. 52 weeks, 5 days a week that's 260 days a year. Which is also $1352 a year in gas to and from work as well as 520 gallons of gas and 14,040 miles on my car. With an oil change (25$) every 3,000 miles it's an additional 4 oil changes adding $120. Now the personal cost savings of working at home is $1472.

However, that's an individual. If my entire department (all that could do it) were allowed to work from home, then there are 30 less people in the building. Some of these live in town and some live further away. Most drive cars that aren't as efficient, so guessing that all 30 people would use about as much gas as me (on average) a year this would reduce the gas being consumed by 15,600 gallons a year. This doesn't look like much until you realize that this is what just one company could contribute with a change in attitude. What if all of the knowledge workers in Illinois were allowed to do this? How many are there? 100,000? I know many drive to Chicago and use more gas than I do. I would bet that on average they probably drive further than I do. So just guessing the same amount for all 100,000 people now saves 52,000,000 gallons in Illinois.

That's also 100,000 less cars driving all those miles to and from work. Less traffic congestion, less polution, less gas being used. If we could get companies to get into the mindframe of allowing the knowledge workers to work from home then we could drastically reduce emissions, cut the cost of gas and reduce traffic problems. Granted not every job can be done working from home, but there are many that can. Potentially there could be companies that don't have more than a very small office as their headquarters, because they would not need to house all of their employees in one building.