Well, at least in the Washington, DC region. In an article in the July 27th Washington Post Matt Zapotsky reported that the number of teleworkers reporting to telework centers in the DC region has increased from 253 last September to 415 now. The most often quoted reason for this escalation?
Gas prices. The trigger point? Reportedly gas at $3.75 per gallon according to a survey by Telework Exchange.
Although the price of oil has declined to $125 per barrel (remember when most people thought it would never exceed $100 per barrel?) that’s not likely to drop the price at the pump below $3.75. And that $125 won’t last in the long run as Chinese and Indian demand for cars continues to accelerate. Look for $150 per barrel by the end of the year, with prices in Beverly Hills passing $5.00 per gallon.
As can be inferred from the gloom emanating from GM and Ford, the dominance of the Urban Attack Vehicle is over. Vehicles getting at least 30 mpg are the new rulers of the road. But note that one of the teleworkers interviewed for the Post article was a Prius driver!
So, amidst all the moaning and gnashing of teeth some good things are coming out of the gas situation:
- The number of telecommuters is definitely on an upward bounceâ€”from which it is unlikely to return except marginally;
- Popularity of, and attendance at, telework centers is, finally, likely to swell, particularly among those workers who enjoy group situations;
- The price of gas won’t increase as fast as it might otherwise have doneâ€”the producers of oil are getting nervous;
- Those arrogant road elephants may be on the road to extinction (except possibly for the herd owned by the California governor);
- We actually may get serious about developing alternative energy sources; and
- Ditto for energy conservation.
Note that the Federal Highway Administration is widely quoted as saying that, in May, American drivers drove 9.6 billion fewer miles than a year ago.
Good luck to us all.