July 2, 2008
Relief for cash-strapped commuters
I was happy to see that yesterday's ABC World News with Charles Gibson did a segment on organizations that have instituted a four-day workweek to help relieve their employees' skyrocketing commuting costs.
In the piece, ABC cited a survey conducted by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas that found that 57 percent of medium and large businesses have begun offering commuting alternatives to help employees get to work without breaking the bank. According to ABC, "20 percent provide employee carpools, 18 percent help with the cost of public transportation, and 14 percent allow employees to work from home one day a week."
Of course, many progressive organizations and companies were encouraging workers to telecommute or get to work by some mode other than sitting alone in their car long before gas prices hit $18 a gallon or whatever they are this week. One of the most notorious examples of this is the Microsoft Connector bus, which has more than doubled its Seattle, Eastside, and northern Puget Sound routes since its inception in September 2007. I'm not sure what's cooler: the fact that the Connector has the potential to take almost 5,000 cars off the road each weekday, or the fact that you can actually get Wi-Fi service while riding to work -- which, if you work through the commute, can shave two hours off your workday.
Even if your company isn't shelling out any financial relief, you can still reap some modest monetary rewards by switching from a solo commute by car to a commute by bike, bus, or carpool. Besides the money you'll save at the pump, the City of Seattle is offering up to $150 in cash incentives to those who reduce their five-day-a-week solo car commute to four days a week or less. If you've already made the leap to greener commuting, mazel tov! -- as part of its Commuter Cash program, the City will be happy to send you $20 for each friend you convince to follow suit.
In the coming weeks, I'll be looking for other companies and organizations that have found creative ways to relieve employees' gas tank woes, no matter what the budget. If your company has a unique story to tell, feel free to post a comment or drop me a line.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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