Gas Prices Alter Work Environment
Carpooling and teleworking increase in face of rising commuting costs, survey finds.
Tue, June 03, 2008
Network World — Gas prices are forcing workers to consider carpooling, working from home and other tactics to avoid costly commutes, according to a new study developed by staffing firm Robert Half International.
In a survey of 539 U.S. workers, 44 percent of respondents said higher gas prices have affected their commutes, up from 34 percent two years ago when a similar survey was conducted.
Increased carpooling or ridesharing are the most common change respondents are making, cited by 44 percent of those respondents who have altered their work arrangements. One-third said they are driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle. In addition, 33 percent said they are telecommuting more frequently.
Other commuting changes people are making as a result of higher gas prices include: looking for a new job closer to home (30 percent), working from office locations closer to home (29 percent), working fewer days of the week (26 percent), asking for increased compensation (25 percent), taking public transportation more frequently (23 percent), and walking or biking to work (18 percent).
Employees aren't the only ones making changes. To offset the cost of commuting, 18 percent of companies have increased their mileage reimbursement for travel; 17 percent are implementing ridesharing or vanpooling services; and 11 percent are offering telecommuting.
"Employers may be missing an opportunity to improve morale and reduce turnover by helping their staff cope with the burden of rising gas prices. Often, it can be as simple as communicating to employees what programs are already in place," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, in a statement. "Companies can build loyalty and motivation by showing employees that they are empathetic to their concerns during challenging times."
The staffing firm asked the 56 percent of respondents who said their commutes have not been affected by rising gas prices just how much more per-gallon gas prices would have to rise before impacting their work arrangements. The mean response was $1.14, according to the survey.