Telecommuting is another good option to help reduce your environmental impact. The biggest hurdle to telecommuting—like the paperless office—is getting people to sign onto it. But this time it isn't workers who might balk at it—a lot of times it is management.

Telecommuting is often wrongly perceived as a vacation and workers not having to do their share of the work. But that isn't the case.

Research organization IDC stated that 8.9 million Americans worked at home at least 3 days a month in 2004. That's only a tiny increase from the 8.7 million people IDC reported as teleworkers in 1999.

Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm, conducted its own survey of 936 large companies. Its results showed that 32 percent of these companies offered telecommuting opportunities in 2004. It was a 1 percent increase over the prior year.

Sun Microsystems operates its own telecommuting program called iWork. With it, workers can work from home, or if they need to they can drive to a flexible work center when they need an office. Around the world, Sun has 115 flexible office locations.

Sun Microsystems headquarters

Sun Microsystems headquarters

Flex office

Flex office

Sun Microsystems telecommuters can work from home, or if they need more of an office environment without actually going to the office, they can go to one of 115 flex offices.

Telecommuter's home

NOTE Sun employees have identification cards with Java encoding. When they insert their card into a workstation, it instantly sets up the user's personal preferences.

Although this is a nice arrangement for employees, Sun isn't missing out on any cost savings. Sun says this setup has saved the company $255 million over 4 years. It has reduced its cost for real estate by eliminating 7,700 seats. The company also saves money by not having to pay so much for electricity and not having to upgrade computers.

However, telecommuting isn't as simple as sending a worker home with a company-issued VPN client, a username, and password. In order to make it work, companies need to determine which job categories should be eligible; then guidelines and performance goals need to be established. The company also needs to decide what equipment it should provide and develop training for employees and managers.

Continue reading here: How to Do It

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