U.S. warming to telecommuting

April 21, 2006 at 3:54 PM

CHICAGO, April 21 (UPI) -- Rapidly escalating gasoline prices may speed the United States' transformation into a telecommuting nation, analysts say.

The price of gasoline Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a rough proxy for its wholesale cost, topped $2.25 per gallon.

"The average worker commutes 16 miles each way to work every day," said John Gray of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. "That adds up to more than 8,000 miles per year going to and from work.

"Companies will be forced to help ease the financial burden of higher gas prices or risk losing their workers to companies located closer to their homes or companies that offer primarily telecommuting."

A 2005 survey by Connecticut-based Business & Legal Reports asked employers what they were doing to help employees deal with high gas prices. Only 1 percent of the 499 respondents said their companies were allowing more telecommuting. And 6 percent encouraged workers to carpool or use public transportation.

The overwhelming majority of employers, however, took a hands-off approach, with 86 percent saying that their companies did nothing to help their workers.

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