Work from home and save $38bn

2008

Working from home is no longer just about work-life balance. Against a backdrop of ever rising gas prices, allowing employees to work from home just two days a week could save the economy more than $38bn a year in reduced gas bills, new research has calculated.

A survey by the public-private teleworking partnership Telework Exchange has concluded that encouraging those who can work from home to do so for two days a week, rather than commute into work, would save 9.7 billion gallons of gas or $38.2bn.

Its poll of nearly 400 workers found that more than nine out of 10 believed they could do at least part of their job from home, yet only a third actually did so.

And if the more than half of white-collar employees who could work from home did so, the savings would be substantial, it argued.

"Americans are not seeing an end to rising gasoline prices," said Cindy Austen, general manager of Telework Exchange.

"As we reach the $4 gallon of gas, Americans must turn to alternative methods, such as telework, to cut costs. In addition, employers need to consider offering telework programs and other incentives to retain current employees and recruit new staff members," she added.

More than eight out of 10 of the workers polled said they relied on their own transportation for work.

On average, Americans spend $2,052 a year on gas and an average of 264 hours, or 11 days, commuting each year.

What's more, nearly nine out of 10 said they would discount potential jobs or employers if their potential commuting cost looked like it was going to be too great.

More than a quarter said they were seeking new jobs where the commuting time and costs were lower.

"With gas prices soaring, we need to explore pragmatic and innovative alternatives to the typical modes of commuting," said Maryland congressman John Sarbanes.

"Telework is a win-win opportunity for our federal government. By expanding telework, we can better compete with the private sector to attract the best and brightest to federal service and help federal workers strike a better work/family balance. With gas pushing $4 a gallon, our efforts to pass legislation expanding telework are gaining steam," he added.

More than three quarters of those surveyed said they have changed their lifestyles to reduce their dependence on gas. Yet 38% said they would still pay anything for it.

US motorists were last week encouraged by the American Public Transportation Association to "dump the pump" for a day and take public transport in an effort to curb car use.

A range of initiatives across the country included free bicycles and bike locks, free and discounted transit rides and online information on carbon footprints.

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