On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy
A Less Mentioned Benefit of Telework: Why Pet Owners & Animal Lovers Should Be All Over This
There are a number of benefits to teleworking that may already be familiar to you because they are reiterated time and time again. However, I will quickly summarize them for those who are new to this subject matter:
For employees who can telework and work well this way:
- Can save thousands of dollars annually that would otherwise go towards gas and office clothes
- Improves work-life balance by freeing up 1-2 hours (or more for those who commute even further) so that employees have the option to get right to work instead of wasting time in rush hour traffic as well as being able to get necessary errands done without a hassle (e.g., picking up kids from daycare/school)
- Under a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) where work can be done anywhere, anytime as long as the work is done on time, employees can lead a healthier lifestyle by not having to stay sedentary for 8-10 hour time blocks (includes commute time).
- Reduces real estate costs (for the physical space itself as well as additional costs of maintenance and utilities)
- A more decentralized workforce allows business to continue during emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc.
- Employees who are well-suited to telework are more engaged and productive working from wherever they want, instead of at the office, which adds to the bottom line
- When recruiting, employers can hire the best people for the job regardless of their geographic location
- Having this option for employees enjoy more freedom and flexibility at work improves recruitment and retention, reducing the cost of turnover
For environmental conditions:
- Less congestion for those who must travel to work as well as reduces wear and tear on deteriorating freeway infrastructure from having so many people utlizing it during rush hour
- Although there’s some debate over whether or not teleworking employees make up for not having to commute to an office by driving elsewhere, a reduced need to build additional office building space and expand freeways does mean a decreased carbon footprint
- The more we can curtail the growth of our freeways and buildings as our population grows, the more space we leave for wildlife
Upon mentioning the benefits listed above in my conversations with people, I get a range of reactions. Sometimes it’s disbelief – as if I were just talking about the benefits of teleportation. Sometimes it’s a “Gee that would be great!” followed by moving onto another conversation topic. At other times it is resistance because people are used to the Industrial Age work arrangement and/or love the face-to-face, social aspect of a centralized office. However, as dog owners are not hard to find in the United States, when I begin asking how long people’s dogs have to wait before they can eliminate their waste, reactions change. Yes, there are obedient dogs that wait 9-10 and even 14 hours on a particularly bad day for their owners to come home and let them out. I’m speculating that the 14 hour figure represents overtime work and/or some event on the freeway (perhaps an accident) that has slowed traffic down to an unusual pace. They are most probably coping by not drinking enough water during the day. Just how many of us can live this kind of lifestyle for 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week? One dog owner told me that this is why she thinks her dog developed bladder stones some years later.
Let’s remember that a great many people (apartment/condominium dwellers and those who don’t have fenced in yards) can’t just leave their dogs outside. Additionally, although people can send their children to daycare or school and have their aging or disabled family members stay in some type of “home,” daycare for dogs isn’t prevalent for some obvious reasons. For example, there would be some amount of chaos as new, unfamiliar dogs arrive and intermingle. So, as many would say, it’s better to surrender your pets to someone else who can take better care of them if you cannot. However, I think that what I’m talking about is going on in great numbers (considering the number of people who work in the traditional, 8-hour day arrangement and the number of dog owners). Also, the possibility of a telework arrangement now presents an obvious solution.
To those whose jobs aren’t conducive to remote work or who benefit from the traditional, centralized work arrangement, be supportive of the option to telework anyway. You never know. This may increase the chances that one of your trustworthy teleworking coworkers or neighbors can help out during a break.
I don’t own a dog, but my parrot, Nikita, does not wait in her cage for 8+ hours to be let out. She’s out playing on her parrot play-station nearby or sitting on my shoulder while I work. She’s pretty quiet and not distracting. As I’ve fulfilled my responsibility to give her as much of a natural life as possible, I can work happily. I totally understand why most people want to have that steady paycheck that comes with regular employment. I just hope that more employers out there will see the wisdom of the Information Age working arrangement and take steps towards increasing flexibility and freedom to benefit us all.
Below are links for pet owners who work from home and need a little help with reducing distractions: