Telecommuting gives workers more time to dig out of a storm. Here a man uses a snow blower on his New York City driveway.
Telecommuting gives workers more time to dig out of a storm. Here a man uses a snow blower on his New York City driveway. - 
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As parts of the Northeast dig out from Tuesday's snowstorm, many workers will still be dealing with emails, presentations and phone calls that they've usually handled in the office.

One reason the storm's economic impact will be a relatively low $500 million is the rise of telecommuting, according to estimates by Planalytics, a firm that helps businesses plan for weather-driven changes.

The 2010 census figures show that 2.4 percent of workers telecommute full-time, an increase from 1.4 percent in 2000, says Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economics professor. When Bloom studied telecommuting, he discovered workers can be 13 percent more productive and prefer working from home one or two days a week.

A snowstorm is the perfect time for companies to experiment with letting workers telecommute, he says, because they can see if it works for them. Telecommuting seems to be increasing among workers with lower-level jobs (such as IT call center assistants) and upper-level management positions, according to Bloom.