Give Your Employees a $1,700 a Year Raise, Free

Last Updated Jun 16, 2008 1:55 PM EDT

  • How to Give Your Employees a $1,700 a Year RaiseThe Find: Sun Microsystems conducted a careful study of its flexible working program and found that giving its employees the freedom and tools to work at home saved each employee $1,700 a year in gas and vehicle wear and tear.
  • The Source: Sun's "Open Work Energy Measurement Project," an in-depth study of the energy consumption of 100 participants of the company's flexible working program.
The Takeaway: With gas now more than $4.00 a gallon nationwide, energy concerns are on everyone's mind, including the management of Sun. They've given 19,000 employees (about 56 percent of its workforce) the technology to do their work from nearly anywhere and set them free to work as they will.

The average Sun employee opts to work from home 2.5 days a week. What does that work out to in energy (and energy cost) savings?

  • Commuting, Sun found, is 98 percent of an employee's carbon footprint. Cut their commuting by two fifths and you lower their CO2 emissions nearly as much.
  • Working from home 2.5 days per week saved the employees an average of 2.5 weeks of commute time.
  • Driving less amounts to a raise of $1,700 a year: that's how much the average worker saved in gas costs and wear and tear on the car in a year.
The study was looking solely at energy use, so no numbers are out as to how the move to flexible working has affected productivity or the bottom line. Information on retention and employee satisfaction (up and up) is available through the Sun website.

The Question: With gas prices as high as they are (and concerns about global warming only increasing), why aren't more companies saving their information workers the expense of a commute a couple of days a week?

(Image of man pumping gas by ianmunroe, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.