Price of gas could force telecommuting revolution—at last

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I can think of a dozen really solid reasons Americans should embrace telecommuting. Working from home instead of at a remote office frees up hours of time every day. That extra time eases our stress and makes us better employees and citizens. It also gentles our impact on the environment, on city services, on bridges, tunnels and roads. It’s what I’d refer to brightly as a win-win, if I were a cheerful sort.

Telecommuting, the concept, has loitered around for decades. But like all great revolutions, it takes money to kick it into high gear. The price of gas could finally vault telecommuting from the much-resented habit of selfish parents to an honest-to-goodness working alternative.

Consider this piece in today’s WSJ.com, which is about how employers are aiding their workers in this era of gas-price hikes. Some are giving workers gas bonuses to help cover the cost at the pump; others are arranging for car-pool services. But this caught my eye:

Last month, Shari Chiara put the brakes on her 25-mile round-trip commute to International Business Machines Corp.’s Somers, N.Y., office. Now a full-time telecommuter, the marketing manager says she was prompted to work from home when the cost of filling her minivan’s gas tank neared $80 — an expense she incurred five times per month. An IBM spokeswoman says the company’s telecommuting program was created 15 years ago to help employees balance work and family. But Ms. Chiara, a mother of two, says her decision to sign up was “more about balancing my budget.”

Is the price of gas affecting your commute? How, if at all, is your employer helping?

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