Employers should evaluate current policies to cut commuting costs to workers which are rapidly rising without relief in sight. It appears the problem is a permanent one, to be relieved only with future alternative fuel breakthroughs. But until that time--some years from now--employers must aggressively change work rules and policies.
One seemingly easy solution would be to switch to a four-day work week, which could reduce 20% of workers' gas costs for commuting, and result in a substantial reduction in overall gas consumption.
Staggering which weekday workers stay home would also ease traffic congestion, thereby increasing gas mileage per vehicle, reducing fuel consumption still further.
Another major solution would be for far more businesses to embrace telecommuting, allowing office-type workers to either work at home or from regional offices via broadband Internet access. If this were allowed every day, fuel savings could be very substantial; an overall reduction of 50% per worker might be possible, allowing for their personal driving. Obviously efforts to monitor worker productivity would be advisable; but the threat of losing the benefit of working from home should be a sufficient incentive to keep productivity high.
If businesses are slow to implement such changes, their employees should take the lead in making 4-day week and telecommuting proposals. The important thing is to get moving in the right direction—now.
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This story was published on June 3, 2008.