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Interesting that employers aren't stepping up in situations like this. How much does allowing/encouraging telecommuting cost an organization? Is it our inability to pay for (quantify) performance rather than presence that keeps us from doing this?

See money saving tips at the gas pump http://tiny.cc/fgck2 and

around the home http://tiny.cc/mvzgg

Ver consejos para ahorrar dinero en la bomba de gas y http://tiny.cc/fgck2

alrededor de la casa http://tiny.cc/mvzgg

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Employers don't "step up" to cover increases in commodity prices because that is not in their economic responsibility model. If you are a social benefit agency, such personal cost insulation expenses might be justifiable for your clients, but businesses provide a product or service at a profit. Management has a fiduciary responsibility to its owners and they can't just toss shareholder money around to make themselves more popular with employees who already receive a competitive salary. Besides, it wouldn't be "fair" to subsidize gas prices for low-milage SUV-drivers commuting 100 miles a day while paying nothing extra to those riding a bicycle or walking to work. The "equity" arguments alone would foment riots.


Actually, I think allowing telecommuting - assuming the practice isn't currently in place - can have costs and ramifications (including service coverage, for starters), depending on the business, its jobs and its operating model, so not sure we should underestimate of that step. Per Jim's point, I would agree that many employers view this as beyond the scope of the employment relationship. That may change, however, if commuting costs eventually interfere with an employer's ability to recruit and retain the talent needed to function. Here's hoping it doesn't get that bad!

Thanks for the comments Kevin and SM!


A slippery equity slope indeed - good points.

Thanks SM


My comment was geared towards telecommuting. I wasn't implying that companies add a gas differential to employee pay. However, there are steps they could take (such as allowing employees to telecommute) that would serve provide a huge benefit to employees at a minimal cost to employers.


Perhaps you could help me better understand the costs and ramifications of telecommuting? I realize this practice would not fit every position, but it seems to fit a lot of them.

We utilize telecommuting to a great extent, but it can complicate a global payroll by establishing a tax nexus in foreign states where any home-working/telecommuting employee resides. That includes California as well as France, for example. Wise employers are ALWAYS seeking methods and alternatives to maximize the net income their people get to keep from their gross pay, to reduce family expenses that the employer can more effectively mitigate or absorb, and to enhance the engagement levels of their staff by providing more personal value in their total rewards packages.

Agreed. Which comes back to my original question... Why is it that only 13% of companies are allowing more telecommuting (according to the survey). Is it because the majority (87%) of employers don't trust employees or are unable to guage performance beyond a warm seat and a steaming cup of coffee?

There are other alternative reasons possible. Most probably, the companies surveyed have already maxed out their telecommuting and virtual office options in earlier years. Such efficiency efforts tend to be asymptotic, with diminishing returns as room for relative improvement disappears. Perhaps those surveyed have work forces that are not affected by gas prices; hence relative disinterest in a non-problem. It is also possible that the jobs still required to work in brick & mortar settings require simultaneous group physical presence, as in health care. Most workers are non-exempt, and that creates additional limits to the self-controls legal counsel will permit when the company retains liablility for voluntary overtime worked; State and federal overtime laws create very expensive penalties for errors. Or, of course, as you might presume, the majority of employers are abject idiots, in which case they rapidly disappear from the observation sample due to Darwinian principles.

Great conversation, Jim and Brandon!

Brandon: Wasn't clear the first time on your original question, but get it now that you've restated it for us - is there a reluctance to offer telecommuting because we either don't trust employees or (and) because we are unable to measure their performance in any manner than the presence of butts in chair? Great question and, I fear, probably a valid point. What I don't know with respect to this particular study is how many of the total employers, 87% of whom aren't allowing "more" telecommuting at this time, currently have any kind/level of telecommuting practice in place. Last year's W@W Salary Budget Survey reported that 34% of responding employers currently have telecommuting/telework program in place - which does suggest that this is still far from a "majority" practice.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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