The TSPLOST/TIA will not do much to unclog traffic anytime soon, if ever. That’s clear despite claims by supporters of the tax plan. The focus is on moving people instead of riding the technology wave in our changing work culture.
This is the time to be educating and encouraging employers and employees to enter the teleworking and telecommuting world. Wholesale commuting via autos, buses and trains should be giving way to the far less expensive and much more efficient option of working from home or remote sites that do not require commuting, i.e., sitting in traffic, burning gasoline, polluting the air, enduring stress, etc.
Atlanta already is a leader in telework with Microsoft last year recognizing our capital as the nation’s “friendliest city for telework.” Information workers in this metro area were doing their jobs remotely five days a week per month — one day better than the national average. Atlanta had “the highest support levels from colleagues and the highest use of secure internal social networking tools to collaborate with customers.”
Georgia took a leap forward back in 2007 when it became the first state to offer telework tax credits to businesses. That helped push the number of Georgia teleworkers up by 35 percent in three years, reaching about 600,000 in 2010, the Telework Research Network reports. Currently, 20 million to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day a week, not including the self-employed. It’s the trend, the future of work for many more millions that no longer need to sit at a desk in an office in a high-rise building far from their homes.
Fully 40 percent of workers in this country have jobs that could be done at home, according to a study (Matthews and Williams) – 50 million workers that could be off the highways and streets, saving gas, money, time, air quality and more. Telework said 61 percent of all federal employees “are considered eligible for telework,” but only 5.2 percent do so regularly.
More frequent telecommuting is already the second option of choice for employers dealing with higher gasoline prices. Thirty-three percent use that option, second to increased car-pooling, the choice of 46 percent of employers.
“Companies are offering telecommuting as a way to give employees more flexible schedules and in some cases make up for not offering bigger raises, but also to curb office space expenses,” Telework Research’s Kate Lister told SecondAct.com.
“The ongoing rise of telework reflects the new realities of today’s mobile information age,” said Ron Markezich, corporate vice president, Microsoft U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group. “Telework is no longer a company perk for employees but a business imperative,” he said.
It’s time to focus on the quickest, least expensive way to cut traffic congestion – without raising taxes.