This is the third in a four-part series about the state of telework. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here. This part looks at how telework relates to gas prices, and the final part will examine various signs of hope for telework’s future.
The series is based on my interview with Chuck Wilsker, who is a member of The Mobility Collaborative, consisting of some of the world’s top thinkers on transportation options, and President and CEO of The Telework Coalition, the leading telework non-profit in the United States.
You talked about the relationship between gas prices and transportation infrastructure in The Mobility Collaborative’s first white paper. Is there a relationship between gas prices and teleworking specifically?
When gas prices went up a few years ago, nothing made my phone ring more. Employees needed to save money on gas. Employers needed to retain employees who said they could no longer afford long, expensive commutes.
If one works from home one day per week, work-commute gas consumption is reduced by 20 percent. That essentially brings $4-per-gallon gasoline down to $3.20-per-gallon. Working from home two days per week, is a 40 percent reduction, nearly cutting the cost of gas in half.
Is there a policy or direction you think would work better than the system of incentives we have in place?
What incentives do we now have in place?
A better idea than raising fuel taxes could be a tax on miles driven, or how about an incentive for driving fewer miles?
I have a gas guzzler that gets awful mileage, but I only put about 3,000 miles on it last year. Because I drive so little – thanks to teleworking – gas prices become much more of a non-issue for someone like me.
I’ve had people – not a lot of them – tell me that they kind of like the alone time they get while sitting on the [Washington] Beltway or parkways every day, and they get used to it. I personally used to drive to Capitol Hill from my home in the DC suburbs. Could be up to 1.5 hours each way – sometimes a little less, more frequently a lot more. Must admit I got used to it – never liked it, but got used to it. I now avoid that rush hour trip at all cost! AND my work/life balance is so nice without a multi-hour commute. AND I get to spend more time with my 5 dogs and 2 cats.