Gas prices are in the headlines daily- and it isn’t hard to see why. According to the EIA's gas price comparisons, costs in 2022 have spiked dramatically to the highest on record.
There are multiple reasons why gas prices remain high:
- An increase in demand post-pandemic.
- A formal ban on Russian energy due to its invasion of Ukraine.
- Less oil and gas availability from other locations.
At the time of writing, consumers are shelling out up to a reported $6 per gallon!
While the pandemic changed the American commute, cars remain the primary transportation method used by employees to get to and from work. However, when we consider this in tandem with a post-pandemic workforce that does not want to return to the office, how are gas prices impacting remote working?
Let's take a look...
Remote Working in 2022 and Beyond
During the pandemic, around 70% of full-time workers did their jobs from home. Now, employers are finding that approximately 90% of employees expect to work from home at least one day a week, with 70% hoping for three days a week.
Reports vary, but we can say that around 50% of companies require or plan for employees to return to the office. Examples of businesses adopting an office-first strategy include Netflix and Goldman Sachs.
In contrast, Zoom, Google, JP Morgan, and many others offer a hybrid approach. Others are embracing a remote-first option, including Deloitte, Shopify, Slack, and Dropbox.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is all sheer altruism. For example, Google may have attempted a soft approach to hybrid working. Still, in August 2021, U.S. employees were told they would face a pay cut if they only worked remotely.
On a less dramatic note, Dropbox may have announced that it's a “virtual first” company, but its offices remain open for meetings and collaboration.
That said, employees questioning the need to return to the office may now have a good reason due to increased gas prices - especially if their salary isn't keeping up. In fact, one study found that more than half (55%) of workers are worried about extra expenses relating to office work, with many stressing about gas prices, tolls and parking.
So what’s to stop them from looking for a remote or hybrid solution or finding an employer more sympathetic to cost of living increases? After all, no one wants to work for less.
What Employers Can Do To Retain and Hire Employees
In light of this climate, there are several practical things employers can do to help offset these increased expenses:
Fuel Allowances and Compensation Packages
Make extra allowances for fuel and plan this into your compensation packages, especially if you expect employees to commute instead of working remotely.
Now that flexible working is such a central talking point, employees want to be better compensated for the additional effort and cost of commuting. Fortunately, tools like LaborIQ can help you calculate competitive compensation packages while keeping such factors in mind.
If driving is a significant aspect of your organization’s service, you may also consider offering cash back or other benefits. Lyft and Uber, for example, have both tried to help drivers by adding temporary fuel surcharges to deliveries and offering a rewards program with cash back on gasoline purchases.
The Hybrid Working Model
Offering employees a hybrid working model (or fully remote working) is the best way to help employees keep their gas costs down.
Hybrid working ensures they only have to make the journey to work some days a week. The savings of such an approach are considerable, so consider whether you could shift more responsibilities to support a remote working model.
Encourage your employees to ride- share. Again, it’s vital to offer incentives recognizing your team's effort to make this work. You could even take care of organizing potential ride- share groups and/or provide monetary incentives to the drivers.
Cover The Cost of Driving to Work-related Appointments
While it’s not always possible for companies to pay for all work-related driving, it can go a long way to offer some support. Healthcare company Home Clinix, for example, has been offering gas and Walmart gift cards to its 15 employees who have to travel to patients’ homes. Small gestures like this acknowledge the impact rising costs have on your employees' quality of life.
Encourage The Use of Public Transportation
Using public transportation to get to work isn't always possible. However, businesses can help make the often troublesome public commute more bearable (when feasible).
For example, you could partially pay for train or bus passes. Or accommodate public transportation timetables by offering employees the flexibility to come in a little later or earlier by adjusting their workday. This way, they don’t lose more time away from home.
An Employee Bus
Consider offering a bus service to travel to your office from a set location. Where applicable, this could even bridge the gap between the nearest available public transportation and your office. In addition, like ride-sharing, it would save on fuel costs.
Offer Bicycle-related Incentives
Consider whether you can offer grants, discounts or convenient bicycle payment plans to encourage more employees to cycle to work. Not only does this save on fuel costs, but it's great for the environment and employee well-being, too!
Our Final Thoughts
While remote work was already a growing trend, rising fuel costs are another reason to reconsider traditional workplace attendance. For many, inflation is cutting severely into their salaries, causing them to suffer a lower quality of life.
So, in response, consider offering hybrid or remote working opportunities where it makes sense. This would drastically soften the impact on your staff. If this isn’t possible, it’s time to consider how you can better compensate your employees for lengthier commutes and help them offset rising transportation costs.