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It strikes me that one way to ameliorate the traffic situation and decrease emmisions on Oahu would be to create tax incentives for companies that allow information workers to work from home. The tax credit would be based on how many information workers they allow to telecommute. This would greatly reduce the number of people slogging between the Ewa plain and town.

Companies could make the telecommuting positions available to top performers. This would increase productivity while decreasing emissions. In my experience top performers tend to perform just as well remotely as they do on location. Thoughts?

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I think that's a good concept. It might be easier to implement if you simply offered a tax credit per employee that works from home. And at that point, why not extend it to any employee.

Unfortunately, given the decline in tourism, it's likely that traffic reduction will occur over the next few month as the tourist industry lays off workers. I hope it does not but all the news points in that direction.
I would say that in some cases top performers will work even more efficiently than they do on location. I visit my home base for about 1 week per quarter where I get practically nothing done due to the noise and distractions in the cube farm that is the corporate office. I spend the remainder of my time in a nice room with a door -- no cube walls for anyone to lean against and blabber about the latest episode of "The Family Guy."

The only problem is that I tend to end up at the other extreme where I have no face-to-face interaction with other developers who are passionate about their profession. I think that is where Truman's Jelly Coworking Group will come in handy once I finally get all settled into my new surroundings!
I've been doing the Virtual Office thing off and on since 1999 with mixed results, and have a few friends who also work in telecommuting jobs based in San Francisco.

For a while, it was cool to be able to roll out of bed and be "in the office" in under 10 minutes. But as Stephen pointed out (and I wholeheartedly agree), you lose out on face time with colleagues and upper management. A webcam and teleconference meetings isn't an adequate substitute.

Isolation and Loneliness are a HUGE detriment to telecommuting careers, and you REALLY need to make an effort to leave the home, get out and Network with other professionals who are passionate about this kind of work. Hopefully they're people who are "at your level" or a few notches higher, so you're kept on your toes and can look forward to exchanging good ideas with them.

More often than not, I found I just couldn't stand the isolation. I left those cushy Telecommuter jobs with their high salaries and job-security for good old Field Consulting work, where I got to fly out to client sites, interact with them to fully understand the spectrum of problems they are encountering, and work toward solving their issues.

I'm currently back doing a Home Office, creating "the next great application" in my own startup. Whenever I can, I take on small side projects just to have fresh faces to interact with. Isolation and "Cabin Fever" aren't fun to deal with at all. :-7
@Dan

Heck, if telecommuting became more prevalent in Hawaii, I'd move back to Honolulu in a second!

... no, wait, maybe I wouldn't have to...
Hey, whoa, let's not start any flame wars about Family Guy...

Maybe there are some of us that can sling code *and* talk about Peter Griffin's latest misadventures, at the same time..? ;-)

Stephen McMahon said:
I would say that in some cases top performers will work even more efficiently than they do on location. I visit my home base for about 1 week per quarter where I get practically nothing done due to the noise and distractions in the cube farm that is the corporate office. I spend the remainder of my time in a nice room with a door -- no cube walls for anyone to lean against and blabber about the latest episode of "The Family Guy."

The only problem is that I tend to end up at the other extreme where I have no face-to-face interaction with other developers who are passionate about their profession. I think that is where Truman's Jelly Coworking Group will come in handy once I finally get all settled into my new surroundings!
John: I think that's a good concept. It might be easier to implement if you simply offered a tax credit per employee that works from home. And at that point, why not extend it to any employee.
True. I like this approach.

Stephen McMahon: I would say that in some cases top performers will work even more efficiently than they do on location.
I absolutely agree. Large noisy offices drastically reduce the productivity of many (most?) people that have jobs requiring a modicum of concentration. Another productivity killer is the vast majority of managers that hold frequent, unnecessarily long and pointless meetings.

Laurence A. Lee: But as Stephen pointed out (and I wholeheartedly agree), you lose out on face time with colleagues and upper management. ...(clip)... Isolation and "Cabin Fever" aren't fun to deal with at all.
I hear you re: cabin fever and the dangers of becoming disconnected. I used to live out in Kapolei, which at the time was really the boonies. I got tired of driving 40 minutes into town and ended up taking a long term remote Swing contract for a publishing company on the mainland. Although the money was good and the work was interesting, I started to suffer from a lack of contact with others after a few months. I became acutely aware of the fact that I am a social creature. Being an outsider also worked against me when company politics came into play. I think the ideal situation is probably a blend of both on location work and telecommuting. In the scenario I described, the folks out west could still slog in to town on Fridays.
I stand corrected! :) Maybe it would have been less discriminatory to say "no cube walls for someone to lean against and ask you a question for which the answer can be found in the first page of results in a simple web search."

There's nothing like getting snatched out of 'the zone' for one of those, eh?

Brooke Fujita said:
Hey, whoa, let's not start any flame wars about Family Guy...
Maybe there are some of us that can sling code *and* talk about Peter Griffin's latest misadventures, at the same time..? ;-)
Er, I apologize for the facetious comments earlier...

On a more serious note, here in Japan, telecommuting has not really caught on even though the infrastructure is in place (I've got optic fibre running into my home). This is largely due to the business culture in Japan, where face-time is vital.

With the ever rising cost of fuel here in Japan, the number of enterprises that are perhaps beginning to think about telecommuting may be increasing slightly. But recently I've been hearing about companies who are drawing up plans to instigate telecommuting should the H5N1 avian flu ever turn into an epidemic (pretty scary scenario). Link to article on Yomiuri Weekly.
What sort of duties you have really determines if this will work or not. I agree that there can be many distractions in an office setting, but there can be equally as many distractions at home, especially if you have pets or children.

I've been working at home for almost 2 years now doing web design/development, and because of the isolation issue, have become a lot more socially active, through groups like Meetin Honolulu or Global Pau Hana.
One way of eliminating the traffic would be to bring back the four day work week. That's 20% savings on fuel consumption (per auto) including time spent in traffic.

I would love to work from home. I tried it and I got a lot more work done. No more interruptions! Just gotta hide the remote control and lock the fridge.
I agree it would help, our CIO was going to allow the IT shop to start working from home one day a week.

It fell through thanks to the Information Assurance Dept. Thanks a lot big Navy!
I work for Apple in Cupertino, California remotely from home here in Manoa and can say that top performers perform just as well remotely depending on the type of work they do. I'm a user interface engineer/web developer and have been just as successful remote but it does have lots of obvious challenges. I think small companies would benefit most from what you mention because only they can afford to have 1/4 of their workforce remote (if its not offshore/outsourced already). The biggest bang for the buck would be large companies with thousands of employees, thereby shaving hundreds of people off the road but can you imagine companies of that size allowing 25% to work remotely?

In my experience, companies either have critical mass in the office in which case the remote employees are the "exceptions", or they operate with entire teams offsite (ie. offshore), and sometimes the onsite folks (if any) are the exceptions.

I wonder if there are unintended consequences of a large volume of remote workers. Office buildings can get the latest and greatest green technologies in HVAC, electricity, lighting, etc. but most folks can't afford to install those technologies in their homes.

Very interesting idea Daniel!

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