Working from Home: Modeling the Impact of Telework on Transportation and Land Use

Working from Home: Modeling the Impact of Telework on Transportation and Land Use


Rolf Moeckel, Technical University Munich


Telework is a popular way to reduce commuting. However, saved work trips often are replaced with other travel, such as longer shopping trips. This project applies a land-use transport model (MATSim & SILO) to analyse the impact of telework.


For certain professions, it has become popular to work at least part-time from home. Telework allows more flexible schedules, may reduce the burden on commuting and may also offset costs for office space for the employer. According to the German federal statistics bureau, almost every other employee works at least occasionally from home, and 10 percent of all German employees work regularly from home. In the European context, Germany’s share of teleworkers is just below the average, with the Czech Republic and Denmark leading the list of teleworking countries with 15.2 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively (Welz and Wolf, 2010).

The impacts of telework are ambiguous. For example, Mokhtarian (2004) found that telework may reduce vehicle-kilometres travelled by eliminating commute trips, though at the same time teleworkers may compensate commute-time savings with additional recreational travel. Mokhtarian and Varma (1998) found that telework reduced vehicle-miles travelled by 11.5 percent, even though the number of person trips increased slightly on telework days. Kitou and Horvath (2003) concluded that telework may lower selected emissions because of reduced commuting, however, some emissions (in particular N2O and CH4 emissions) may increase because of added activity at home. In addition, the theory of constant travel time budgets (Zahavi, 1982; Zahavi, 1979) suggests that many teleworker could use the commute time saved through telework to do other trips, such as driving a longer distance to the preferred grocery store or making additional leisure trips. Furthermore, workers who only need to visit the office one or two days a week may decide to move further away from their workplace to enjoy lower housing costs or a larger house, which may offset any travel savings from telecommuting.

Transport modelling is a powerful method to understand what-if relationships. It allows transport planners to understand the impacts of telework in a simulation environment under different rates of acceptance. In this research, a modelling suite is developed that allows analysing the impacts of telework on transport and land use. The transport model MATSim ( will be integrated with the land use model SILO ( Traditionally, land-use and transport models are coupled by using aggregate accessibilities, or mode choice logsums in advanced cases (Timmermans, 2003). As both SILO and MATSim work microscopically, this model setup allows considering actual travel times experienced by individuals. Travel time to work is treated as a real constraint in housing location choice. For example, a worker who leaves for work at 9 am will see a different level of congestion than a worker who needs to be at work by 6 am. The availability of modes may be different for the two workers as well. Another worker who commutes by bus will only consider transit travel times while auto travel times are mostly irrelevant. The individually experienced travel time can be considered in household relocation in SILO. However, regular teleworkers may care less about or disregard entirely travel time to work entirely in their location choice.

Mokhtarian and Salomon (1997) developed a model to choose whether someone telecommutes or not. Bailey and Kurland (2002) analysed literature to understand who telecommutes, finding that male professionals and female clerical workers prevail. Those findings will be used to implemented telework in the SILO/MATSim modelling suite. By accounting for daily schedules that respect Zahavi’s travel budgets, it will be possible to quantify the impacts of individual choices to telework on travel and housing location choice. Different scenarios will model varying acceptance rates to telework a certain number of days per week. Indicators to measure the impact of telework will include vehicle-kilometres travelled, mode share and degree of urban sprawl.


Association for European Transport