Late last year I went on a bit of a rant about the silliness of “going green” and commuting back and forth to an office every day… I won’t bore you (again) with the details but you can find the posts here.
Suffice it to say it isn’t just the carbon footprint of the commute itself… it is the office buildings, your home, the parking garage, etc. This gets ignored by the media and the environmental groups. Imagine if we could save 20% of the US commute every day PLUS 20% of the commercial real estate footprint.
Why am I back on this you ask? Today’s East Valley Tribune (Phoenix) ran an article entitled “Employers work to ease commuting costs to offset gas prices” which notes that
High gas prices have done more than suck away consumers’ cash. They also have led many bosses to approve four-day workweeks, telecommuting options, flexible schedules and mass-transit subsidies.
Over time, consistently high gas prices could forever change how we work, experts believe.
This in and of itself is not news… what is news is that they come dangerously close to getting it right:
If that happens, experts say, workplaces could change in ways unimaginable, with huge growth in home offices and telecommuting, fewer big-building headquarters and less need for office parking garages, unless public transportation increases dramatically or vehicles become a lot more fuel-efficient.
Of course they do not explore the really interesting parts of this statement… they simply move on to talk about gas prices, employer stipends for public transit and gas, and of course the ubiquitous diatribe about how telecommuting is scary – including “protecting company data”.
Listen – I’m not suggesting that we should all stop going to the office. I’m suggesting a goal, an idea – that by 2015 20% of the US workforce generates 0 additional carbon footprint. That means no commute, no additional space (office, parking spot, etc) beyond what they already use. This step would create a massive savings in energy consumption.
Will we need to learn new management techniques – sure – but that is nothing new. Take a look at your bookshelf… how many management books are up there from the last 10 years?
Will we need to re-think how work gets done – and to a certain extent what jobs are and who does them? Sure.
But at the end is a HUGE WIN-WIN. Employers save billions on facilities, employees enjoy a more balanced lifestyle and the US can take a huge step toward energy independence by eliminating a massive amount of energy consumption.
Or perhaps I’m barking mad…