Telework: An Overnight Change Two Decades in the Making
This is a Saporta Report Thought Leadership piece by Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead Executive Director
Remember that week in March when the world seemed to change overnight? Sports leagues suspended their seasons, schools sent students to learn at home, and offices everywhere went virtual. Almost six months later many businesses continue to operate remotely, opting to keep some – or all – of their employees based at home for the foreseeable future.
While the move to a work-from-home world seemed to happen overnight, in metro Atlanta that change had been in the works for nearly two decades. Since 2003, a network of organizations across the region has worked with businesses to create effective telework programs that help reduce traffic and improve air quality. We have helped craft workplace policies that increase teleworker productivity and boost morale, demonstrating that telework can be a true win-win solution for employers and employees.
Telework has been one of the fastest-growing commute alternatives, with companies embracing the benefits of both occasional and full-time remote work arrangements. In a June 2020 survey, 59% of employers reported working from home as an option that was available for at least some of their employees prior to COVID-19.
One of the key selling points of telework has always been that it allows businesses to continue operating even if employees cannot travel to the office. Prior to COVID-19, the biggest test of telework as a business continuity strategy came during “snowpocalypse” when icy roads kept thousands of workers at home for several days. Businesses that had invested in remote work programs immediately realized their value as their operations continued uninterrupted.