By Jeanette Joy Fisher
It's been growing
steadily over the past few years, but the trend toward
telecommuting has increased significantly during the
dramatic rise in gas prices. With gas hovering at
$3.00/gallon, more and more employees are beginning to
call in sick or take more time off because of the pinch
they're feeling due to the high cost of commuting to work
Recent figures compiled by the International Telework
Association and Council illustrate the growing
telecommuting trend. Their figures show that some 26
million Americans work from home at least one day every
month, and another 22 million do part of their jobs from
home a minimum of once a week.
U.S. companies are beginning to sense the cost of employee
absence, and they're also beginning to see a trend toward
shorter commutes. That may eventually translate into one
of a couple outcomes. First, companies may be forced to
move their workplaces closer to their potential workforce
in able to attract and keep employees in the face of
increasing fuel costs. The other alternative would be to
begin allowing employees to work from home, whether
fulltime or on a part-time basis.
In states that have traditionally seen employees making
long commutes, such as California, a 160-mile round trip
would cost drivers about $15.00/day in $3.00/gallon gas,
assuming they have a reasonably fuel efficient vehicle. An
SUV or other gas-guzzling vehicle would send that total
much higher. Either way, such a long commute would take a
large bite out of an employee's bottom line.
If the trend continues, and there's no reason to believe
it won't, America will soon be known as a telecommuter
nation, with a majority of workers doing their jobs from
home at least one or two days a week. Many employers have
begun to see the handwriting on the wall and have begun
offering their employees the opportunity to telecommute in
order to maintain productivity levels and to retain
employees who might leave if the cost of their commute
began to adversely affect them substantially enough.
Part of the reason for the growth in telecommuting is the
fact that it's becoming more socially acceptable. Where it
used to be the rare exception to the rule, it's not
unusual at all to hear someone say that they're working
from home several days a week. As the concept becomes more
widespread, it's likely to pick up even more steam.
Managers used to worry about lack of control over employee
productivity, but the years have proven that telecommuters
are often more productive than their counterparts in the
office. There are few distractions and they often work
Employees are also becoming less likely to devote hours of
frustrating commute time to a job. The current trend is
toward shorter commutes, or no commute at all. People
simply don't want to sit in traffic or drive long
distances the way they used to, and eventually companies
will need to accommodate employee demands if they want to
attract and keep quality people.
Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
Telecommuting Right for You?
Just Stay Home Campaign
Do you want to protect the environment, save money on gasoline, or protest the
escalating prices? Join our easy protest.
Ways to Save Gas
Environment and Ecology Articles List of solar and
energy conservation articles