Jun 04, 2008

High Gas Prices Should Drive Employees to Telecommuting

gas.jpgWith gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, a survey by placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reveals that 57% of polled employers are offering alternatives to help employees cope, according to CNN. Strategies include a compressed work week -- four 10-hour days (23%) -- employee carpools (20%), subsidizing the cost of public transportation (18%), and allowing employees to telecommute at least one day a week (14%). Personally, I'm surprised telecommuting is so far down the list. All the other options are good ones, but telecommuting has some distinct advantages for employers as well as employees. (Full disclosure: I'm writing this from home, as a telecommuting employee.) Here are just a few of the benefits:
  • Recruiting and retaining the best employees. According to the survey, 34% of employers have had a qualified candidate turn down a job because of a long commute, while 40% of jobs could be done telecommuting. Allowing employees to telecommute is an attractive job benefit that will help you attract the best candidates, even if far away. Another study shows telecommuting employees are more satisfied with their jobs, and less likely to leave.
  • Decreased costs. Telecommuting may decrease your costs -- for example, if it allows employees to share work space and office equipment.
  • Increased efficiency. Employees working at home are free of the distractions of a ringing phone, interruptions by co-workers, and the like. Particularly if working on focused projects, this allows employees to work more efficiently.
  • Positive environmental impact. One 2005 study found Americans drive an average of 16 miles each way to work. In addition to reducing commuting times and costs, allowing telecommuting has a positive environmental impact as fewer workers drive to the office.

To learn how to create a work-at-home arrangement that will suit both employee and boss, see The Work From Home Handbook, by Diana Fitzpatrick and Stephen Fishman (Nolo).

Alayna Schroeder