Tele-Conference More, Travel Less

Telework is one of those great ideas that remind me of the wisecrack long leveled at Brazil: “Brazil is the county of the future — and always will be.” People have been touting telework for a couple of decades now as a way to reduce travel and ease traffic congestion, and no matter how few people change their habits, true believers say widespread adoption is right around the corner.

Of course, Brazil has finally achieved its due as one of the world’s leading economies — the world’s sixth largest. And the time finally may have arrived when new technology makes telework, or tele-conferencing, a meaningful alternative to travel.

A new study conducted by the Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the value of telework, contends that if half of all federal workers used video conferencing, achieving three and a half hours a week each in productivity gains, they could save $8 billion annually. Other benefits include $5 billion saved through reduced travel, as well as the ability to meet tighter project timelines, generate a smaller carbon footprint and improve work-life balance.

However, significant barriers remain, according to, “Fly Me to Your Room: Government Video Conferencing Collaboration Report.” Three quarters of those surveyed said that their respective agencies were not utilizing video conferencing as much as they could. Cited as problems were the lack of video conferencing tools, bandwidth limitations, organizational cultural barriers, lack of awareness, incompatible video conferencing platforms and insufficient managerial buy-in.

Bacon’s bottom line: Video-conference technology is advancing year by year and people are getting acclimated to video chatting on their personal phones, tablets and PCs. President Obama issued an executive order last year to encourage the use of video conferencing in the federal government as a way to hold down travel costs. Governor Bob McDonnell should do something similar. Video conferencing would create a two-fer for Virginia: (1) It would reduce state government travel expenditures, and (2) it would take cars off the road… roads that the state pays to maintain. Let’s do it!


Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. Off topic, as almost always with my comments:

    Profitable passenger train service? In a rural area?

    Yep, in Virginia:

    Virginia seems to be doing something right.

    1. Very COOL! Amtrak is actually making a profit on this run. WOW!

      I wonder how long it takes it to go from Lynchburg to DC?

      In a car, it’s the better part of 4 hours.

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    Telework is a lot more complicated than most people think. For example, when will Jim Bacon hold a teleconference blog post involving himself and others? Pick a time and invite people to join. Record the teleconference and post it as one of your blog entries. Sounds simple. Give it a try. I think you’d be a little surprised by the number of challenges. It might be made to work but it’s not s straightforward as you might think.

    The other issue is where it all ends. Maybe a company can tell their graphics artist to work from home. Sounds good. Then, the company might decide that they can get graphics art done more cheaply in Oklahoma than by a person across town. Well, maybe it can even be done outside the United States.

    Be careful what you wish for, Jimbo. It seems to me that fluid teleconferencing could create just the opposite of functional human settlement patterns. Yes, a trip to and from work would be avoided. However, the spouse and the kids now live out in that big house in the countryside where every trip to everywhere is a 15+ mile event.

    Take this admittedly extreme question – if you really could divorce where you live from where you work, where would people live?

  3. re: knowledge-based economy

    re: be careful what you wish for

    re: NoVa sucks

    re: places where young want to be verses where the jobs are

    re: companies looking for cheap building rent

    re: bosses who want to see their workers at work in a physical location vs bosses who can judge output quality and quantity (or know how to).

    I know a child psychiatrist who spent his first 40 years practicing in physical circumstances.

    He now consults via the internet to locations in Missouri.

Leave a Reply