The Internet, broadband, and telephony provide the means for a far-reaching social and environmental change by laying the foundation for a new future of work. The number one contributor to carbon and environmental emissions in the U.S. is squarely rooted in how we work. By encouraging telecommuting and working from home, we can save energy and money while cutting greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
Work-related activity creates over 90% of the carbon emissions and pollution in the U.S., with buildings and transportation accounting for almost 75% of the total. Roughly 3% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes a majority of the time today; if that number was 50% of those who can, we would cut our carbon emissions in half, while saving 453 million barrels of oil and reducing 2.1 billion hours wasted in traffic. Essentially, it would be the equivalent of taking 15 million cars off the road. At this juncture, over 90% of employees (regardless of the type of activity) report to the "factory" on a regular basis, with some working out of intermediate locations (coffee shops, co-working spaces), and less than 5% working from home a majority of the time.
We seek to flip this paradigm toward a majority (of those who can) working remotely. To this end, we will work to develop regional and national policy recommendations and convene leaders in the context of how we can use policy to spur more remote work, hubs, and increased job opportunities around the growing broadband economy. We will convene leading organizations focused on the future of work, as well as policy leaders at state, local, and federal governments toward increasing broadband work, increasing job opportunities, and helping to enable the access economy. The goal of these efforts goes beyond the academic; plenty of case studies and legislative efforts serve to frame the opportunity. We need to catalyze both policy makers and industry toward a new mode of work with increased broadband, decreased environmental impact, and increased job opportunities for all Americans. This could well be the lowest hanging fruit, biggest bang for our buck, in the fight to stem climate change—all while inspiring a new generation to increase opportunities by bridging the Digital Divide.