City of Austin participates in Work From Home Day


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on February 8, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 8 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- Friday morning, the offices at Austin City Hall were empty -- mouse pads untouched, seats vacant, computer screens off. Even the normal hustle and bustle of lunchtime traffic through downtown was subdued. But it's not a holiday; it's Work From Home Day, even for some of Austin's top officials.

"I love it. I feel like I'm getting to tasks today that I often don't find the time to do," said the city's Chief Sustainability Officer, Lucia Athens.

The concept is the brain child of Social Good Summit Austin, a group of social media and tech experts. Organizers got not only the City of Austin,  but the governor's office, Dell and several other major employers to work from home.

"To see how we can improve our air quality and reduce our traffic congestion," explained Co-Organizer Ruben Cantu. 

The goal was to get 10,000 cars off the road, reducing the carbon footprint. The bonus -- people are more productive.

A recent study by Brown University found that people who work from home are 12 percent more productive then those who work in the office.

"People in Austin typically sit in traffic about 44 hours every year, and that's just wasted time. Not only is that your car's running, you're wasting fuel and polluting; you could use that 44 hours to do something more productive," said Athens.

"It's easy. I don't have to get in a car and drive across town for one thing and especially in Austin, Texas these days," said Joe Burke, who works from home. "It's a lot more convenient."

Convenient, yes. But does it work? Social Good Summit has surveyors who are measuring traffic and testing the air quality. Those numbers, along with the total number of people who worked from home will be compiled over the next few weeks, and if the impact was significant, Austin officials say people could be working from home more often.

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