Flex Your Commute

Did you know that arriving at work 30 minutes to an hour earlier, and leaving 30 minutes to an hour earlier can actually dramatically reduce the time you spend stuck in traffic, and therefore save fuel and money?

My brother-in-law, who works for an insurance company in Tigard, recently requested to shift his work schedule from 8-5:00pm to 7-4:00pm, which saves him an extra 45 minutes of commute time a day wherein he would be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, idling. The less time he's on the road, or the less time he's stopped in traffic, the more fuel/money he saves.

Flextime allows an employee to select the hours he or she will work. There are usually specified limits set by the employer. Employees on a flexible schedule can work a condensed work week or can work a regular work week. Those working a condensed week may work four ten hour days, rather than five eight hour days. Those who work a five day week may work hours other than the typical "eight to five."

As the cost of gas continues to increase more and more employers are offering this incentive to prospective or current employees as a means to help them reduce their commuting costs and better balance their budgets - with a benefit to the environment as a tertiary concern. The 2008 TransitCenter Commuter Impact Survey looks at the state of employer commuter benefits. TransitCenter, which offers tax-free commuter benefits and supports transit options, surveyed 1,283 human resources professionals and customers of its TransitCheck program.

The third annual survey found that 40 percent of companies offer some sort of commuter benefit program. Forty-nine percent offer flextime, 42 percent offer telecommuting, 24 percent offer tax-free commuter benefits and fewer than 10 percent each offer subsidized vanpool or carpool.

Although 53 percent of all the employers surveyed are aware of tax-free commuter benefits from the IRS, only 46 percent of those offer them to employees. Fourteen percent, though, plan to add them to their employee programs.

To implement this cost savings commuting program at work your first step should be talking to co-workers and coming up with a plan. Your boss's biggest concern will probably be that the office will be a ghost town on Fridays and Mondays, since many people may want a condensed work week and a long weekend. Come up with a rotating schedule which will allow everyone to get an occasional long weekend. Your boss won't want everyone leaving work early. Come up with a schedule that allows the office to be manned throughout the day. Perhaps someone can flex from 7-4 and another can flex from 9-6pm. Even thirty minutes can mean a huge difference in the kind of traffic and expense you'll encounter on a daily basis.

Just some fuel for thought!

Melinda Crouchley

Resource Used: