Most Americans take fewer car trips, consolidate errands, and eat out less frequently to cope with rising gas prices, but if everyone who could telecommute did their jobs from home twice weekly, the country could save 9.7 billion gallons of gas and $38.2 billion a year, according to a recent study.
Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership for promoting telework, recently surveyed 377 federal and private-sector employees and found that 92% believe they could do their jobs from home. However, only 34% reported that they actually telework.
If the 53% of white-collar employees who could work from home did, the savings would be substantial, according to the study, "How Much Is Too Much -- America's Addiction To Gasoline And Its Impact On The Workforce."
"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."
Eighty-four percent of respondents said they rely on their own transportation for work.
On average, Americans spend $2,052 annually on gas and an average of 264 hours, or 11 days, commuting each year, the study found. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they would limit job searches because of potential commuting costs. Twenty-eight percent said they are seeking new jobs to reduce commuting costs.
"With gas prices soaring, we need to explore pragmatic and innovative alternatives to the typical modes of commuting," said U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md. "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."
Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed said they have changed their lifestyles to reduce their dependence on gas. Still, 38% said they would pay anything for it.