Could telecommuting be Boston's answer for less traffic?

BOSTON — After commuting to work for more than 20 years, Paul Sackley now works remotely from his home in Franklin as an IT product manager.  He spends the day in sneakers, shorts, and a baseball cap and works when it is most convenient for him.

When Sackley was looking for a new job, he found one through FlexJobs, a site which features remote work opportunities.

Sackley quickly became accustomed to being home, and not stuck in traffic.

“My heart goes out to those people. I’ve been there. I’ve been on the train. I’ve been on Route 495, 95, 93 into Boston,” he said with a sigh. I’ll never do that again, hopefully.”

Governor Charlie Baker would like to ease traffic congestion by creating more situations like Sackley’s. He’s proposing companies get a tax break of $2,000 for each worker they let telecommute. The program would be capped at $50 million and would make Massachusetts the first state in the country to implement this type of incentive.

Lisa Walker, a vice president at Fuze,  where 70% of the Boston staff telecommutes at least one day a week, likes the idea of the Bay State leading the way on this issue.

Walker says telecommuting is a win-win for Fuze, which makes communication software, and expects this trend to really start taking off.

“There's two factors behind that. One is existing employees. They’re asking for it.  They’re saying they want a more flexible work experience. The bigger force that’s coming is future workers. Millennials and Gen Z will make up a majority of the workforce by 2025. They’re going to be demanding that coming into their first job.”

Obviously, not all jobs lend themselves to telecommuting, but Suzanne LePage, a civil engineering instructor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, believes getting more drivers off the road could help ease the pain of rush hour.

"If we're going to work within the capacity that we have, that to me, seems like a logical solution."
It's one that really works for Paul Sackley. "Just getting back those two hours a day, to spend with my family instead of listening to the radio in the car, that's the single biggest thing."

One study by the Harvard Business Review found that productivity went up when workers had the option of telecommuting.