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Each week it seems that the East Coast, and often the majority of the country, is hit with a winter storm that shuts down schools, snarls traffic and poses challenges for employees to be productive within their organizations.

Last week, more than 100 million people were impacted by a winter storm that spread across much of the U.S.  When employees have to sit through weather-related traffic that oftentimes lasts for hours, the impact on their work, family, and morale is significant.

To have an understanding of how extreme the impact of weather can be to our working life, take the example of my next-door neighbor, who lives in the Maryland suburbs and works in DC, about 30 miles away.  During one of our recent snowfalls that disrupted the D.C. region, her usual 45-minute commute from work took more than 9 hours!  Yes, that is a staggering number.  And to put it into some context, that’s 3 hours more time than it took her to drive home from Cleveland when visiting her sister the prior weekend.

At NetLink, we are fortunate that most employees are able to accomplish their work from a home office.  Given the choice, they prefer to do so, thereby avoiding arduous commutes.  For many businesses, however, the reality is that work often needs to get done at a company location and it’s not feasible for employees to work from home.  Still, there are many on the margin that could transition some employees, at least some of the time, to a telework situation.  In many cases, what is required is for organizations to commit to web technologies and specifically, web-based software, that give employees access to critical functions and data required to do their jobs.  I recently did a blog post on this subject – the idea that web technology is the true enabler for distributed organizations.

There are a lot of arguments for why teleworking is a good idea.  Most of them boil down to improving the quality of life for employees.  To me, this also translates to better productivity in their work functions because I believe that happier employees contribute more to an organization on many levels.

If that’s not convincing enough, there are strong economic and environmental arguments for teleworking, as well.  According to the Telework Exchange, each person can save thousands of dollars and eliminate several tons of pollutants per year by working from their home office.

It so happens that “Telework Week”, a private-public effort being underwritten by Cisco to help organizations gain awareness about the merits of teleworking, is scheduled for the week of February 14th.   In addition, the BWI Business Partnership’s upcoming Signature Breakfast scheduled for Thursday, February 17, will feature Melinda B. Peters, P.E., ICC Project Director, Maryland State Highway Administration, who will speak about the challenges of commuting in the DC metropolitan area.  As members of the BWI Business Partnership, we are sponsoring the event to highlight our commitment toward helping organizations move toward a more productive distributed work model through the use of web-based software.

When the Washington DC area was recently ranked #1 for worst traffic, surely this – along with hours-long traffic jams due to snow and ice – was a wake-up call for companies and organizations in the area to consider embracing a distributed organization and teleworking.

More productivity.  Happier employees.  Better access to talent outside of your region.  Cleaner environment.  Teleworking is clearly a win-win for everyone.