The Return on Investment for Telecommuting Librarians

A study, conducted by Fraunhofer USA, found that in a single year teleworking reduced annual vehicle miles by 1,400 miles per telecommuter, and fuel consumption by 680 million gallons. In 2012, Global Workplace Analytics suggested that those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home at least half the time would save, Nationwide, over $700 Billion a year including:

("Latest Telecommuting Statistics" Global Workplace Analytics. Global Workplace Analytics, January 2016. Web. 18 February 2016.)

This is promising news for industries that can support telecommuters, but how do library administrators consider adding flexible jobs to their workforce? There are certainly positions that are not conducive to telecommuting.  If you work on a public service desk, the interactions between librarian and patron are not easily replaced with a computer monitor and a Skype session...yet.

Libraries increasingly provide 24/7 virtual access to patrons and many libraries are going beyond their physical buildings to provide service.  Why not consider having employees do the same?  Reference librarians can do their virtual reference work from home. The ordering of books and materials, updating bibliographic records, and even Web site development can be done outside of the physical library space.

According to the Global Workplace Analytics assessment of the 2005-2014 American Community Survey (U.S. Census Bureau) Two to three days a week is the best balance for productive work at home and collaborative work at the office. Don’t let unplanned circumstances (like health issues)  drive a flexible work schedule; make sure your personnel policy allows for telecommuting and consider adding this benefit to your next job opening.

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The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.