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According to Alan Schreck, Business Writer for the Associated Press, oil prices have now exceeded all time highs in excess of $114.00 per barrel.  California residents are feeling the worst of the crunch, paying over $4.00 per gallon of gas.

As employers, it is imperative to begin implementation of alternative plans in order to retain top performers.  So, how can employers maintain your workforce in a recession?  Its high time employers embraced the alternative work environment concepts.

As a Human Resources Consultant, I work with clients who are scattered around the nation.  Much of the work I do is conducted over the phone and email.  Otherwise, I am completing electronic documentation or conducting project work.  I spend approximately 25% of my time meeting with my local clients in the Phoenix metropolitan area, but otherwise, I could conduct the remaining 75% of functions from home, given I had access to our network.

On average, I spend approximately $65.00 each week on gas.  At least half of that amount is for the purpose of traveling to and from work.  I am an exempt level employee and am compensated for the quality and superiority of my work; I am not necessarily tied to a time clock, despite our business hours of 8am – 5pm.  I am responsible for responding to my client’s human resources needs and I firmly believe that if I were not meeting my client’s needs, I can say with 100% certainty that my employer would know before I would!  Therefore, if someone in my current position would be granted the opportunity to work from home, savings would exceed $1500.00 per year on fuel costs alone.  That equals about 10 weeks of groceries….to put it in perspective.  This is not even considering the money spent on going out to lunch!  In fact, I can assure you that my waistline would benefit, as I would not go on a jaunt to McDonald’s if I were working at home!

So, those are ways in which I can benefit, but what might that mean for my employer?  How would an employer benefit by allowing employee’s to work from home?  There are a few expenses that could be lowered or eliminated that would have a very positive effect on the bottom line.  My employer has approximately 32 employees and we have a lovely office in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Now, I don’t know exactly what we pay for our monthly rent, but it must be exorbitant!  If my employer implemented the work from home option, we could lease a much smaller office and save money on rent and utilities.

So, what are alternatives for the micromanager?  You know – the one who needs to personally be assured that all employees are being productive every moment of every day…the one that enjoys peering at your computer screen over your shoulder….  Okay, okay, this option may also be applicable to non-exempt employees or employees working in an industry that requires being in the office.  How about the 4×10 schedule, which includes a full staff in house on the busiest days and the other days include a rolling schedule to ensure 100% coverage.  Using the same scenario above, one who spends $30.000 in fuel each week expressly for the purpose of traveling to and from work on Monday – Friday, would still achieve over $300.00 in annual savings.  Not to mention the benefit of having a four day work week!

Please forgive the ranting of a financially challenged HR Manager, for she only seeks to improve the vitality and financial health of the American Workforce and Business Community.

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