At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and most companies were forced to work virtually, few executives thought the situation would continue for over a year and might be the new work norm going forward. Today, although many companies have site-essential employees who continue to report to a physical workplace, most have to some extent embraced a future of work model that promotes virtual work for those employees who can carry out their responsibilities off-site.
Last October, I announced to my team the decision to transition to a permanent virtual work structure with no plans to require individuals to return to an office, unless the nature of their work requires them to physically be on site. We will use our physical hubs across the country as places to periodically convene, connect in person, and collaborate in our new hybrid workforce model.
Over the course of the past year, SAIC, like many organizations, has realized the benefits of working virtually, such as an improved work/life balance for employees, increased productivity, and cost savings that can be applied to strategic investments. As we celebrate Earth Day this month, we can also acknowledge the positive impact a virtual workforce and hybrid work environment has had on reducing the destructive carbon footprint that results from worker commuting and travel.
Prior to the pandemic, SAIC employees commuted an average 25.7 miles round trip to their assigned worksites from home. Eliminating the daily commute saves approximately 8.3 hours/week per employee and nearly $50 in gas per month. From an environmental standpoint, this equates to the elimination of roughly 5,096 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Our carbon footprint is further reduced by using collaboration tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that minimize the need to travel to meetings by automobile or airlines and play a key role in supporting a productive and collaborative virtual workforce.