Work from home. Save the planet

Summary:What if I told you that working from home could help save the world? It's true.

Many of us in the tech world work from home. Many bloggers commute ten feet from bed to coffee pot to desk (with, hopefully, a stop at the shower along the way). Many IT professionals RDP into servers from home, saving long trips and travel time.

To the rest of the working world, though, working from home is still a bit of a strange idea. Most of us -- and certainly all of our parents -- grew up with the idea that you got up, went to work, and came home. Work was another place.

On the national level, our tax policy reflects this. The IRS still doesn't like the idea of home offices and the home office deduction is always something of a red flag.

But what if I told you that working from home could help save the world? It's true.

Next: Working from home is a strategic opportunity for the U.S. »

Working from home is a strategic opportunity for the U.S.

For most of 2009, I spent the bulk of my time writing the book How To Save Jobs (you can download it for free here). I did a tremendous amount of research into both how we got where we are as a nation, and also issues impacting our success into the future.

One area I looked at was working from home. Working from home isn't just a convenience or a way for businesses to save a few bucks on office space. Working from home is a strategic opportunity for the United States.

I spent a few months developing data models to determine if working from home could be good for America. The results I came up with were astounding:

  • Americans spend 36.9 billion hours a year, commuting
  • Americans drive 1.9 trillion miles commuting each year
  • Americans spend $255 billion just for the gasoline to commute
  • Americans consume 60.5 billion gallons of gasoline (the capacity of 1,298 Exxon Valdez tankers, fully loaded) each year to commute
  • Americans release 1.16 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide into the air while commuting.

By contrast, working from home can provide measurable strategic benefits:

  • We’d reduce our reliance on foreign oil
  • We’d reduce pollution
  • We’d reduce global warming
  • We’d regain billions of hours of productivity and family time
  • We’d save a ton of money
  • We’d reduce our costs for road construction and highway maintenance
  • We’d even probably reduce the number of latch-key kids

Working from home isn't a new idea. Farmers, essentially, work from home. The settlers who traveled West in search of new opportunities put down roots and, in most cases, combined living and working into one holistic whole. Even the President of the United States works from home.

So, as you celebrate Earth Day, think about how a more formally supported national work-at-home policy could be transformative for America and Americans. It's not just the money we'd save. It's the time we'd get back and the fossil fuels we'd preserve.

When I tell you most people will breathe easier if we had a better work-from-home policy, it's true -- to the tune of 1.16 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide not released into the atmosphere.

Now that's Earth Day!

The Oval Office is about 816 square feet. Do you have a larger home office? TalkBack below.

Topics: Government : US, Banking, CXO, Government, IT Employment

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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