Telecommuting – Cole's Version

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a small but highly respected think tank in D.C., released a report by Wendell Cox two years ago called: “Improving Quality of Life Through Telecommuting”.

The report deserves your time.  There is much I am leaving out. In fact, after reading it, why not promote telework at your company?

Summary points about the current state of Telecommuting:
  1. It is growing rapidly
  2. Demographic trends favor its growth
  3. It appears likely to emerge as second only to SOV
  4. It emerged as a mainstream organization strategy
  5. It improves economic productivity
  6. It assists in achieving public policy goals
  7. It could reduce inner-city unemployment
  8. It needs to become a key transportation strategy
  9. There are barriers.

Summary of where Telecommuting could go:
  1. It is growing rapidly in U.S. and … is poised to become more popular than transit and non-household carpools as a means of accessing work.

  2. If encouraged by public policies, it could deliver enormous economic and environmental benefits and could even play an important role in creating new opportunities for employment for lower-income Americans. [I would add that since oil prices will rise before the eCar becomes affordable by lower-income carbon commuters, this is more than a little prescient. -bg]
  3. We can get a fourfold increase of telecommuters, to 19M by 2020, and there are two steps the U.S. Government could take this for telecommuting:
  • Congress should reform the current pre-tax commuter expense plan (Internal Revenue Code Section 132). This allows employees to exclude from gross income up to $220 per month for “qualified parking” (defined as parking provided to an employee on or near the business premises of the employer) or up to up to $115 per month for qualified mass transit expense to and from work. This system biases employee decisions toward driving and transit and away from telecommuting and other modes (e.g. walking and bicycling). From an economic perspective, the ideal policy would be to simply eliminate this provision completely.

  • The Obama Administration should initiate an interagency examination of the potential benefits as well as strategies for accelerating telecommuting. This should be a part of a national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create economic opportunities for lower-income Americans (especially in inner cities, where auto availability is limited) and rural communities.

CONSIDER THAT TDP charging would likely drive far more telecommuting than would any other program. -bg

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