Mitel Survey Clears the Air on Telecommuting

June 05, 2007

Mitel Survey Clears the Air on Telecommuting

Mitel Survey Clears the Air on Telecommuting

Distrust of Teleworker Productivity Reduces Adoption

Sixty-eight percent of Canadian and 64 percent of U.S. service industry respondents to a recent survey on the benefits of teleworking believe that measures aimed at reducing GHG emissions, especially those related to transportation, would be significant. However, while employees generally feel that teleworking saves them time and that they use this time to work more productively, 42 percent of Canadian and 54 percent of American employers are concerned about how they can monitor employee productivity in the context of teleworking.

“Telework has been implemented to some extent, however the link with efforts to address global warming is not clear to everyone,” said Bob Fortier, President of the Canadian Telework Association. “If the link between teleworking and its benefits, including the many environmental benefits, were publicized more, it is likely that organizations would be encouraged to promote teleworking even more.”

Transportation is the largest contributing end-use sector to total emissions. Since 1990, carbon dioxide emissions related to the transportation sector have increased at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The growth since 1990 has meant that transportation emissions have increased by 391.8 million metric tons, representing 41 percent of the growth in unadjusted energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from all sectors.

Businesses contribute to transportation emissions through employees travelling on business, distribution and transportation of goods, employee commuting and other fleet operations. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures indicate that if just 10 percent of the nation's workforce were to telecommute just one day a week, Americans would conserve more than 1.2 million gallons of fuel per week. 

“Nearly 40 percent of our North American employees telework, with each mile not traveled between home and work saving on average 1.1 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere,” said Don Smith, Mitel’s CEO. “By encouraging the use of our unified conferencing and collaboration software we reduce not only our overall travel costs, but also 0.57 lbs of CO2 per mile, per employee from being emitted into the atmosphere every time these tools are used instead of traveling to a meeting.”

Between three out of 10 organizations in Canada and four out of 10 in the U.S. report that they encourage teleworking with 59 percent of Canadian and 65 percent of U.S. teleworkers reporting they work from home at least once a week.

Organizations expect teleworking to grow in the next five years. According to their projections, the proportion of employees doing it could nearly double over the next five years. This is consistent with the fact that most employees who do not yet telework would be interested in trying it.

According to most employees, teleworking is a time-saver that allows them to spend more time with family, to do more work and even be more physically active. Consequently, teleworking can eventually have many positive effects, not only on the economy, but also on work / life balance and healthcare.

On behalf of Mitel, SOM conducted two surveys from March 16 to April 11, 2007, in order to measure how telework is perceived in Canada and the U.S. and to what extent it is viewed as an efficient way to address global warming. One survey was among information technology managers in small and medium size organizations in Canada (n=100) and the U.S. (n=111) and the other survey was among the Canadian (n=513) and U.S. (n=501) adult population.

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