A growing number of people are working from home either full-time or at least a few days a week. If you don’t telework yourself, you likely have a neighbor or family member who checks in with the office remotely, saving time and preventing stress by skipping the daily commute.

This month, many more employers may encourage their staff to work from home, as the U.S. launches a nationwide Telework Week February 14-18. During that week, The Telework Exchange is calling on federal agencies, organizations and individuals to take a “Telework Pledge“. The organization is hoping the weeklong effort will show the benefits of teleworking. Interested participants can visit The Telework Exchange’s website to pledge, calculate potential commuting cost and environmental savings, and learn more about how to get started through a series of free webcasts.

As more workers forego the commute and get right to work, employers are finding it hard to ignore the research indicating that this option provides a boost in both morale and productivity. A quick perusal of The Benefits of Telework report produced by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the Telework Exchange reveals much support for those who ditch the travel mug for a cup of coffee in their home office.

In addition to the positive effects on the environment brought about by reduced travel, the report reveals that, “The job performance of teleworkers has been documented to either exceed or remain on par with that of workers in a traditional workplace arrangement.” It also points out that the increased flexibility afforded by working from home improves morale, reduces stress, and can improve employee retention and recruitment. Finally, from an operations standpoint, telework “can enable reduced demand for office space as well as reduced facility operating costs” and “allows for optimal use of technological advances.”

If these aren’t arguments enough, there may be increased impetus for companies to add teleworking options to their offerings, as the Federal Government makes it own shifts in this direction. President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 in December, requiring federal agencies to establish policies that enable government employees to work remotely.

In the private sector, too, an increase in teleworking is showing a number of benefits, and builds a culture of trust among team members who feel their employers recognize that they lead busy lives.

It’s now easier than ever to stay connected via email, instant messaging applications, Voice over IP (VoIP), and videoconferencing. Now employees can attend meetings, hold collaborative discussions, and share documents while working remotely. There are an array of options for staying connected — from basic desktop videoconferencing all the way up to HD cameras and video displays. If you’re curious about how you can upgrade office technology or teleworking systems in the home, ask Advanced AV about its videoconferencing and Cisco’s Callway; the first low-cost, subscription-based hosted service to deliver high-definition video and voice communications across the internet.