Going green by working from home

There's an article on Yahoo Finance today about Sun's Work From Home program and how employees are able to protect the environment by working from home. It details how much we're helping the environment by allowing people to work from home, for example employees are saving more than $1,700 per year in gasoline and wear and tear on their vehicles by working at home an average of 2.5 days a week.

Pam Kong recently gave her own account of the environmental benefits of working from home in her blog here.

The Work from Home program means a lot to me and my team personally, since 90% of my team work from home 3-4 days a week. We all come in to the office on Thursdays for what we call "AGC Day", it's mostly a chance for us to have face-to-face meetings, share announcements, and give the foosball table a little love. Shortly after we started the program I did a survey and came up with our stats on how we're benefitting by working from home:

By working from home 3-4 days per week, the 34 people at AGC who work from home are:
- spending a combined 160 hours a week doing some thing other than sitting in traffic.
- sparing the air 5,489 kilograms of carbon dioxide per week. (source: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/)
- saving Sun $272,000/year in real estate costs.
- prepared in case our building shuts down due to a bird flu scare - we would continue to work about the same as usual.

That last point is especially relevant as Beijing prepares for the 2008 Olympics. It's going to be a zoo around here so many people are encouraged to work from home during July and August. No problem for us, we do that all the time and we'll be just as productive during the Olympics as any other time.

The Work from Home program has been a huge success for us. Only one person switched back to be office-assigned after trying the program for a few weeks. That was me. What can I say? I love the harsh lighting and the big desk and the bad coffee. And I guess the nature of my job as a senior manager makes it harder for me to get my job done from home. But to the 34 AGCers who are working from home, sparing the air, and hopefully using some of those 160 hours with your families, I tip my hat to you.


Thoroughly enjoyable post! :-) (btw, you have reverted to the diner days ;-) )Wasting useful time in traffic jams is applicable to all boom towns in Asia and Bangalore is no exception. Poor traffic sense & pollution not only cause delays but result in a short fuse.

"I love the harsh lighting and the big desk and the bad coffee. "

Hahaha... Same is true for me except for the fact that I have no lighting and no A/c. At my previous employer, we had a dedicated person for making coffee and distributing it to employees like me who can't prepare it themselves :-). Sun should relax the budget controls to get better instant coffee vending machines.

Posted by Madhan Kumar on June 10, 2008 at 05:25 PM CST #

Oh I wish I could afford the luxury of working from home. I don't like commuting, I hate being on a timeclock, and I most of all, the cubicle, oh the cubicle. Well until I'm jetsetting around the world as a multi-millionaire business owner, I'll have to deal with it until a truly worthwhile work from home opportunity comes around. I think that this is an amazing opportunity fo rthe employees of Sun, I'm sure most of the workers are enjoying a better quality of life due to their slight less than corpo lifestyle these days. Maybe eventually Sun could also switch over to bioheat if they are currently running off of oil heat. It's a great alternative, and an overall better choice for the environment! Has anyone here ever heard of bioheat?

Did you know that if everyone switched to bioheat we could conserve 400 millions gallons of regular oil. That's a huge amount! I wish everyone could see the light. I would love it if you would check out the site on bioheat to read more background info on it. The other thing I love about it is that it's completely clean burning, and is comprised of a b5 blend of vegetable and plant oils such as avocados, hemp, corn, etc. Check out the link! oilheatamerica . com /index . mv ? screen = bioheat PS I work with Nora to bring this info to you!

Posted by Jorge A. on June 10, 2008 at 11:57 PM CST #

Very interesting. I love this issue.

I totally support the notion of working from home or wherever you need to work from given the circumstances of your projects and geography. Being tied to an office as the \*only\* means of work is outdated at best. And I also value the concept of everyone getting together in the same space at times because I believe that face-to-face contact is essential to getting quality work done over the long term. There needs to be a balance of face-to-face and digital and/or phone relationships, of course, and everyone has a different opinion about what the mix should be.

However, I have an interesting twist to this. I live in Japan. Just outside Tokyo. And I go to the office every day, yet 99% of my activities are global. I do almost nothing actually \*in\* Japan with the Sun Japanese team for the Japanese market on the Japanese time zone. I find the cultural and language barriers here nothing short of gigantic, and also I'm the only American as far as the eye can see around here at Sun, so I'm actually working more and more on a US schedule to connect to my core team. So, that means I work most nights and early mornings to get the guys in the US and Europe on the phone live. I find that real time communications -- phone and email -- is the most effective way to compensate for the distance and time problem. When you are responding to things 10 hours later it's just too late. Over time, the conversation simply moves on without you and you are slowly forgotten.

So, real time interaction with a \*distributed\* team is absolutely critical if you have no \*local\* team that forms the base of your job. Most APAC Sun employees eventually cross over and interact with the US and/or Europe at odd times of the day for meetings and such, but for me working at odd hours is quite literally my \*entire\* job. And it's exhausting! :) The team I work for is spread out in the following areas: Menlo Park, Chicago, Manchester, Philadelphia, and Colorado Springs. I come to the office to get in to Tokyo, but it's not necessary at all. I think I'll go work-from-home in the fall, so I can at least save the commute time (40 mins each way), which isn't that much but at least it's a hour and a half extra I can sleep every day for the time I'm in Japan. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on June 20, 2008 at 06:39 AM CST #

I love this idea, if you are disciplined enough to actually DO work from home. If I am too comfortable, I know I am not productive at home. Plus, I am too cheap to pay for DSL and I like being somewhere sacred where no one dares bother me. A lot of folks in U.S. universities are telcommuting now, and most of them like it. Those of us who are in-office get frustrated with trying to schedule appointments with the telecommuters. I like your Thursdays idea. And I like the idea of foosball - where can I get one of those? Thanks for an interesting post.
P.S. On a related note, U.S. employees of a major news network are now vying for overtime compensation for the time spend on Blackberries after hours. That adds a whole new dimension to telecommuting. Again, part of the discipline I mentioned is that you have to remember when you are "on" and when you are "off" work.

Posted by Caroline on July 02, 2008 at 08:55 PM CST #

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