Being green is almost a given in Silicon Valley these days – solar panels abound in corporate parking lots overlooking Highway 101, many companies have shunned landfill-littering individual water bottles in favor of tap water filtering systems, and most large companies have a shuttle to and from public transportation. But did you know that one of the greenest things a company can do is ask their employees to stay home?  Of course, if you read my blog regularly, you know what I’m getting at – encouraging employees to workshift.  And why not start on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day – the national day set aside each year to recognize and inspire appreciation for the environment?

A couple of weeks ago, Citrix hosted a panel discussion on workshifting for Watermark, a Bay Area organization made up of successful women leaders.  As usual, it was a lively conversation and discussed how local companies are (or aren’t) using workshifting to their fullest advantage.  Some things that kept my mind cranking long after the event ended were some stats presented by Kate Lister, a principal researcher at the Telework Research Network.  She highlighted: 

  • Workshifters save an average of 6 hours per week in commute time, equaling an average of $138.80 per month on gasoline (I’m sure it is even more than that now that the price per gallon has roared past $4.00 here in the Bay Area!)
  • Workshifters save between $4k-21K in travel and work-related costs – and a reduction in travel lessens the amount of smog covering large cities around the globe

I know some of you might be thinking that encouraging workshifting would reduce productivity.  But you know what?  The same study by Telework Research Network also found that employees who workshift have 27 percent higher productivity.  I agree wholeheartedly with that stat and would even venture to say it is much higher at companies using Citrix technologies.  I know the global marketing team I lead at Citrix effectively works from anywhere on any device – we definitely walk the talk. I workshift at least once a week and many of my team members workshift twice a week.  Think about it.  What would the impact to the environment be if we reduced drive-to-an-office travel 20 to 40 percent?!? 

And, I have to tell you, it doesn’t often seem to matter that some of us are in Silicon Valley, some in Florida and others in India and Europe and many at home offices – permanently or periodically.  Because of Citrix technologies, we enjoy greater productivity than I’ve ever seen at a company.  With Citrix GoToMeeting for virtual meetings, and Citrix Receiver for accessing our desktops and applications from laptops, tablets and smart phones, it is often work as usual no matter where we are.   I’m not saying travel isn’t necessary, because it is.  But it’s nice to know that whether we are sitting in the office, at home at our kitchen table, or in a hotel in Dubai, we can still maintain our productivity.  As I’ve said before, virtual computing is a liberating thing.

So go ahead – encourage your employees to workshift on Earth Day.  Who knows? Maybe you and your employees will like it so much you will turn it into a weekly, monthly, or even daily, practice. It will not only be good for the environment, but good for business, too!