Higher Gas Prices Encourage Americans to Continue Working From Home

April 6, 2022 Topic: Gas Prices Region: North America Blog Brand: Politics Tags: Remote WorkCommutersDrivingGas PricesInflation

Higher Gas Prices Encourage Americans to Continue Working From Home

Some companies are delaying returning to the office amid surging gas prices.  

Inflation levels that haven’t been experienced in four decades and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to soaring gas prices across the United States.

And in some states like California, Hawaii, and Nevada, the pain at the pump is even worse, with gas prices averaging over $5 a gallon, according to AAA. Not to be outdone, some California counties are paying $6 a gallon for gas.

All of these factors have forced Americans to grapple with a new post-pandemic financial conundrum: is it better to commute to work and incur greater transportation costs or to work from home and risk not receiving a regular paycheck?

“The sanctions placed on Russia have resulted in much higher gas prices and higher gas prices mean people are less willing to spend money to commute to work,” Matt Becker, former White House Liaison to the U.S. Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush, told CBS News.

“With gas prices still above $4 per gallon, remote work is a very attractive solution to this issue and a large factor for job seekers weighing the benefits of employment opportunities,” he continued.

Companies Rethink Remote Work Policies

Ravin Jesuthasan, a workplace expert with the consulting firm Mercer, told the news site that some of his corporate clients have made the decision to halt efforts to recall employees back to the office largely due to inflated fuel prices.

“We are seeing many organizations start to take a step back in light of a very dramatic and rampant spike in gas prices,” he said.

“Many companies were looking at returning to the office coming out of the decline of the Omicron wave, but now they have pushed pause. They're saying, ‘Actually, let's wait and see how this plays out. Let's wait for gas prices to start to subside and let's not rush back to the office at this point.’”

Per the Charlotte Observer, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the percentage of total workers working remotely was down to 10 percent in March. For comparison, during the early stages of the pandemic, more than 35 percent of workers were working remotely.

Reducing Gas Consumption

For Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, allowing employees to continue to work from home would be a smart move in the current environment.

“Employers would be wise to allow flexibility when employees have well-rooted concerns about the rising price of energy,” he told CBS News.

“People who can work from home should do so, in order to reduce national gasoline consumption and reduce the impact on people who cannot work from home,” he concluded.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.