I have a confession: I never thought that I would like teleworking. I am one of those people who likes in-person interaction with my co-workers. But as the employee transportation coordinator at my office, I’ve tried to utilize the commute alternatives that I encourage everyone else to use. I carpooled for a while, but once I had children the carpool fell apart and I shifted back to my ride alone commute. The guilt set in. To offset the impacts of all those single occupancy vehicle trips, three years ago I decided to start teleworking two days a week. Wow! I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it.

My mornings are so much less stressful with not having to check traffic conditions before I head out the door. On my telework days, I get the kids off to school and my workday starts about an hour and half earlier than on my days in the office. I’m less rushed, with no clothes to iron and only a 20-foot commute from the kitchen. I can work uninterrupted, and I am more productive on those days. Phone messages are delivered to my e-mail inbox, and instant messaging and video conferencing take the place of the in-person interactions. I still feel just as connected and responsive as when I was in the office full-time. I can also still work if we have extreme weather conditions like our occasional snow day (or snow week) that we see in Atlanta. 
My wallet and the environment have also benefitted from my teleworking. With gasoline around $3.50 a gallon, even my two days of teleworking a week has shifted my once weekly fill-up to almost once every two weeks. I know that my telecommute is helping to reduce the impact on our air quality and our environment and am proud to work for CH2M HILL, a company that strongly promotes full-time and part-time telworking as a method to reduce its environmental impact.

Last year teleworkers at CH2M HILL avoided 1,377 tons of CO2 emissions by eliminating their daily commute. Teleworking has worked out great for my family too. It allows me to be flexible to attend events at my children’s schools during the day and still make planned meetings and conference calls for work. No more rushing out of work early to make it to an afterschool event. I can still work a full day and make it to the children’s afterschool club meetings and lessons.

Melanie Wiggins is a biologist based out of CH2M HILL’s Atlanta office, where she has been the employee transportation coordinator for 10 years. She has been with CH2M HILL for 15 years. In that time, she’s gotten to work by single occupancy vehicle, carpool, train, and teleworked. She’s even had some boat rides to work when doing biology field work. Yes, they were great commutes! 

During Georgia Telework Week, watch this space for other guest blog posts from Clean Air Campaign employer partners and commuters who appreciate that sometimes the best commute is the one we don't have to make.

Here in Atlanta, 1.6 million people commute to work every day, and nearly 50 percent of those folks have commutes that take more than 30 minutes.

At Georgia Power and Southern Company, we have a program called SmartRide that promotes alternative commuting options and flexible work schedules. It's a great way for our employees to cut their driving expenses and time spent in traffic while improving the quality of our environment.

Georgia Telework Week is this week (Sept. 12-16), and telecommuting is one of the key aspects of our SmartRide program. Altogether, we have more than 800 employees who telework in one form or another. Some do it full-time, others do it part-time, and we have employees whose jobs are more suited for teleworking occasionally. It's a decision that involves each employee and his or her manager or supervisor.

In addition to telecommuting, SmartRide encourages employees to use alternative transportation. The company provides subsidies for employees who carpool, vanpool or use public transportation. Not only that:

  • We provide a corporate shuttle between our two downtown Atlanta locations and the closest transit station. The shuttle runs continuously every workday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • We make fuel-efficient loaner vehicles available for SmartRiders to use during the day for business and personal reasons.
  • We provide employees a guaranteed ride home in emergency or unscheduled overtime situations.

Our SmartRide program also asks employees to consider whether a compressed schedule might work for them (for example, working four 10-hour days each week) or whether they can stagger their work hours so they're not commuting downtown during peak times.

The driving force behind SmartRide is improving the quality of the air we breathe. That’s why our company has joined many others around Atlanta in support of The Clean Air Campaign. We’re encouraging employee participation in SmartRide, we're tightening power plant emissions, and we’re increasing our fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles.

Already, our employees in the SmartRide program avoid driving 1.3 million miles each month, which equates to more than 62 tons of emissions not being released into the atmosphere every year.

I could go on and on about the environmental benefits of SmartRide. But think about how it would be less stressful to eliminate all, most or some of the time you spend behind the wheel.

Think about how much money you could save on gas and wear and tear on your car if you weren't always driving solo to work.

Think about how productive you could be working from home and how much easier it would be to balance your work and personal time if you could negotiate a telework schedule with your supervisor.

We think SmartRide is a pretty smart choice.

Kirby Stough is manager of facilities planning and projects at Georgia Power.

During Georgia Telework Week, watch this space for other guest blog posts from Clean Air Campaign employer partners and commuters who appreciate that sometimes the best commute is the one we don't have to make.