Rocketing fuel costs a spur to remote working

Sep 24 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Rocketing fuel prices could provide the strongest impetus yet for the more widespread adoption of remote and flexible working among US employers, including the Federal government.

According to the Telework Exchange, an online community aimed at encouraging the wider adoption of remote working in the Federal government, the government workforce spends $19 million commuting to and from work every business day.

The figure for the total US white-collar workforce is something over $355.8 million.

But with gas prices on the East Coast surging from an average of $2.14 (1.20) per gallon in April to $3.05 (1.70) per gallon in September, the increased urgency to conserve fuel has given renewed impetus to their campaign to push remote and teleworking into the mainstream.

Numbers extrapolated from the April data show that the U.S. white-collar workforce spent $250 million on commuting each business day. With rising gas prices, total per day fuel costs have increased by over 42 percent to $355.8 million.

Prices still have a long way to go, however, before they reach the $6.80 per gallon paid by drivers in the UK.

Figures compiled by the Telework Exchange estimate that by commuting five days a week, the Federal government workforce uses 31.1 million gallons of gasoline each week. If all Federal employees telework just two days a week, they can conserve 12.4 million gallons of fuel per week.

Over the course of a working week, the US white-collar workforce consumes 583.3 million gallons of fuel. So if the entire white-collar workforce teleworks just two days a week, America would conserve 233.3 million gallons of fuel each week.

"President Bush underlined the requirement for Americans to conserve gasoline - this is clearly a national priority," said Stephen W.T. O'Keeffe, executive director of the Telework Exchange.

"Telework provides America with a green opportunity to reduce gas consumption and a golden opportunity to improve our economy's productivity. The Federal government must walk the walk as well as talk the talk on telework."

And as Intel's Kevin Quinn pointed out, the argument in favour of teleworking does not stop with fuel-saving and environmental benefits.

"Beyond cost savings and productivity advantages, telework provides critical continuity of operations benefits," he said.