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Will Rising Fuel Costs Regenerate Corporate Work From Home Strategies?

Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Fuel prices are on the rise and we are noticing an increase in the number of people who are asking if they can work from home. The answer to that question is complicated and is not just about gas prices. It’s a mixture of factors, including company culture, employee retention rates, and the proximity of the job to the home. Rising fuel costs are a reality, but will they be the impetus for a return to work-from-home strategies?

Rising fuel costs should not mean your business should suffer. Are business leaders playing a leading role in speaking with clients and customers about alternative options? As gas prices keep soaring, some companies may be prompted to rethink their telecommuting policies. With labor scarcity and inflation shaking up the job market, companies need to consider how difficult it is for people to commute every day.

  • Are you shifting your client’s companies toward more work-from-home strategies to help their bottom line?
  • Are you offering consultation with your clients on the best ways to save money via their business travel and products?
  • Are you helping your clients understand the best ways to save money at the pump?
  • How have you changed your office routine to save money on your own personal transportation?
  • Have you taken public transportation more in the past 3 months?
  • What are you doing to save money on gas?

The recent rise in fuel costs has impacted the work of MSPs and IT professionals. I interviewed experts from these fields on the implications of increased gas prices on remote workers, the gamut of industries they serve, and a host of other functions.

Anthony Buonaspina, BSEE, BSCS, CPACC, CEO and Founder, LI Tech Advisors

“According to a “New York Times” article, gas prices have hovered near $6 a gallon in parts of California. With the gas pricing spiking more than 40 cents in the past week, my company, LI Tech Advisors, has definitely changed the way we price out and dispatch our service calls.

We have maximized our remote support and only dispatch when absolutely necessary. We do have two Teslas which have helped us keep costs down with our dispatching, since they are more immune to these spikes in fuel prices since they are 100% electric. So, as we move forward, I will be purchasing more electric vehicles so that we are not so dependent on wild changes in gas prices, as well as being able to charge up almost anywhere, as opposed to waiting in long gas lines in the event of another fuel shortage.

Many of our clients were trying to get everyone back into the office. The rising fuel costs may change their plans and go back to a remote workforce. However, not all of our clients have this option and must send employees out. For those companies, they will need to adjust their pricing to accommodate these additional expenses. This is a very bad time to be a delivery service or an Uber driver!”

Jeremy Kushner, Co-Founder and CEO, BACS Consulting Group

“The short-term impact of the increasing fuel prices has, so far, been minimal. Due to the pandemic, we were already well set up for remote services, so this has only impacted a small portion of the work that we perform, fortunately. However, should this trend continue, this will obviously impact items such as shipping and federal fuel reimbursement rates.

Shipping is not an issue, as we already pass along these costs directly to our customers. However, longer-term, we would need to explore passing on additional fuel costs for dispatches to the customer. This would probably take the shape as a transportation surcharge rather than an increase to our hourly rate.

In speaking with our customers, we are, thus far, not seeing much change in the way they are conducting their operations either. We are going to be watching this closely and gauging what needs to be done as events unfold. On a personal note, I am really happy at the moment with my decision to purchase a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle recently for my business use. Living here in California, which is the only state with hydrogen vehicles, the fuel is provided at no cost for three years by the manufacturers.”

Nick Martin, Director of Managed Services, Mainstreet IT Solutions

“We are seeing renewed “spirited” interest in remote work from employees of the various companies we serve. I use the word “spirited” due to the immediate demand for remote work that we haven’t felt since COVID entered its Delta phase. As COVID restrictions have been lifted, there has been a migration towards in-office work. For the most part, people have been seemingly happy to come back to the office, if for nothing else, to get out of their homes.

Now, with gas prices skyrocketing over the past couple of days, we have seen an uptick in supporting users from their homes. While economists and politicians determine whether this will be a long-lasting effect, we have been preparing with businesses to improve work-from-home environments. This just proves that work-from-home strategies will need to be a focus as businesses deploy their IT strategies in the future since it shows that a disease, such as COVID, isn’t the only reason to cause people to work from home.”

Reid McConkey, Founder & CEO, Resolved IT Solutions

“High fuel costs are definitely impacting my team… not so much yet, but it will trickle down. We’ve temporarily increased the mileage reimbursement rate to compensate. We’ve been totally remote since we started. The insane cost of living and doing business in Vancouver where we operate has made us totally disinterested in a physical workspace that requires a commute.

The generally high cost of doing business in Vancouver has made us adapt our strategy. Gas in particular isn’t a big enough part of our equation as a mostly remote IT provider. We’ve seen a steady climb in remote work since the beginning of COVID. It’s hard to predict these changes as our local government and public health policies are extremely heavy-handed and often come without warning. We work with some logistics companies that have been forced to raise prices due to the increase in fuel costs.”

Robert Giannini, Chief Security Officer and CEO, GiaSpace

We are concerned with the rising gas prices, especially now with the world being tense because of WWIII rhetoric. Gas prices always go up but, in the past, we accepted it as there was nothing we could do. Since COVID, though, most of our clients are very accepting of us having a remote workforce and our techs know that this is an option.

Also, in the past, working primarily remotely would have been a concern for some of our clients. The feeling was if the team was all in the office the response time of the company would be better. We saw this especially when the big push to move workforces overseas for discounted labor.

Companies have proven this is not the case in the world we live in today, and if the high gas prices stay with us longer than a couple of months, we will have no option but to go back to primary working remotely to keep costs down, and most importantly, that our techs do not feel the unnecessary expenses.

We have recently moved back to the office full time so the team can get a different pace. It has been a welcome change as well since we do not feel so isolated at times. We will adapt, as many will in the coming months, as the world seems to be in a fragile state.”

Rising fuel costs are causing businesses to rethink their corporate strategies. The remote workforce is becoming more popular for many companies as employees want to reduce or eliminate the need for a daily commute. This saves on costs like fuel and car maintenance but also reduces stress from a long drive. What impact has the recent spike in fuel prices had on your work from home strategies?

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