When life seems jolly rotten there’s something you’ve forgotten
Viruses, hurricanes and fires. Economic recession, job loss and evictions. Things are tough all over and it can be challenging to find the silver lining these days. But there are some bright spots if you know where look. Some of the positives can be uncovered with tools like Microsoft Power BI. There’s a lot of data out there and, turns out, it’s not all bad news.
Many of us have been working from home these last six months. For some, that has been a positive development. For others, it’s been a significant challenge. Recently, the California Department of General Services (DGS) setup a website tracking telework data. They used Power BI to visualize the impacts telework has had on DGS operations. Some of the findings are remarkable. Since March, 1,624 DGS employees have been working full or part time from home. Because of that, among their staff DGS found:
- 16.4 years’ worth of traveling to and from work has been saved
- The number of miles driven, equal to 194 trips around the Earth, has been avoided
- 198,000 gallons of gasoline has been saved
- $619,000 has gone unspent on gasoline
- 1,761 metric tons of carbon dioxide was prevented
Those are some seriously impressive figures for a single state agency. And when you extrapolate that data out further, you start to see other environmental and societal benefits, like better air quality and fewer roadway injuries and deaths.
A distributed workforce, as we like to call it here at Kiefer, can also make for more equitable opportunities. A July article in Bloomberg CityLab noted that, as telework becomes more commonplace, wages could be driven up in less wealthy areas while housing prices may be driven down in more costly areas.
“Still, the shift in the remote-work mindset is particularly significant for opportunity in the tech industry, where the concentration of job opportunities has been extreme and redistributing those jobs elsewhere could drive down housing costs in the most expensive metros,” according to the article.
Buoying that outlook, Calmatters.org recently published an article that found, “Two-thirds of Bay Area tech workers would consider leaving the region if they had the option to work remotely…Meanwhile, two-thirds of Sacramento residents said they want to work from home at least twice a week even after the pandemic ends.”
Of course, the opportunities provided by telework are not afforded to everyone. Technology inequity is still a widespread problem as many school districts rolling out distance learning solutions are witnessing firsthand.
Businesses, meanwhile, face an upheaval in the commercial real estate market but also the opportunity to lower employee overhead while expanding their talent pool. A July report by Upwork found that “Businesses engaging remote professionals will see benefits that extend well beyond cost savings: While hiring outside of the top 15 most expensive places can help lower costs, it can also provide access to a larger talent pool, and even improvements to productivity.”
None of this is meant to suggest we’re in an ideal situation. Far from it. Most people would gladly take back their grueling commutes in exchange for a return to normalcy. But, seeing as we are where we are and heading toward a new normal, sometimes it’s good to look on the bright side.