Ozone Action Days: It's Good Business

Tab Townsell Commentary

Ozone Action Days: It's Good Business
With telecommuting, businesses can significantly reduce operating costs by opting for smaller or even shared workplaces. (Shutterstock)

With the current workforce aging, employers in Arkansas are looking to the next generation of leaders to help fuel their companies' growth. Yet for many, attracting and retaining this younger talent has been trickier than expected. 

Why? Because today's workers not only expect flexible work arrangements, they demand it. As Forbes recently noted, "Remote work is no longer a privilege. It's become the standard operating mode for at least 50 percent of the U.S. population."

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At Metroplan, we've seen this shift in worker preferences' first-hand. For more than a decade, we've encouraged residents to take voluntary emission actions to help keep the region in compliance with federal air quality standards as part of our annual Ozone Action Days public awareness campaign. We've promoted walking, biking, taking transit and carpooling to work. But as times have changed, so have our outreach strategies.

That's why, throughout July for "Telecommute Month," we're highlighting the health and financial benefits of this growing workplace trend:

Reduced carbon footprint: Harmful ground-level ozone is created when pollutants like vehicle exhaust mix with sunlight. Breathing this type of ozone can cause chest pain, throat irritation, congestion and other long-term negative health impacts. By encouraging individuals to work from home, businesses will reduce their carbon footprint — helping employees and the central Arkansas community at large breathe easier.

Enhanced recruitment: Whether large employer or startup, companies that don't hop on board with telecommuting risk losing employees to competitors that are willing to provide flexible work arrangements. Missed opportunities may be even greater among individuals in Generation Z, which are often more incentivized by remote work than traditional office environments. 

Increased productivity: Every year, U.S. employers lose billions in worker productivity due to health concerns, travel time and other related issues. Companies can offset these losses by implementing telecommuting policies that encourage employee efficiency. According to a study by Stanford University, telecommuters experienced a productivity boost equivalent to a full day's work. The study also showed work-from-home employees worked a complete shift as opposed to those who go into the office.

Lower overhead: Businesses no longer need to rent huge office buildings or warehouses to accommodate their workforce. With telecommuting, they can significantly reduce operating costs by opting for smaller or even shared workplaces like the Little Rock Technology Park.

No matter their end goal, we hope central Arkansas businesses will support Ozone Action Days this summer by encouraging their employees to telecommute. It will help protect air quality in the region, and it will benefit their bottom lines. 

Tab Townsell is the executive director of Metroplan, an association of local governments that serves as a regional voice on issues affecting central Arkansas, develops transportation plans required by federal law and convenes stakeholders to deal with common environmental issues for its members in Pulaski, Faulkner, Saline, Lonoke and Grant counties. For more information, visit metroplan.org.