The Age of Cheap Energy may indeed be fading away, but, as I noted recently, not all the consequences have to be dire. We may actually like some of the coming changes. Small example: I’ve already noticed fewer cars on the road at peak periods and on the weekends as drivers try to save money by consolidating trips and cutting down on aimless driving. The other evening I was standing out in my front yard about 6PM, and for several minutes I didn’t hear a single car. Not one, not even in the distance, and this is a fairly busy street.
For just a moment I flashed back to being a kid in a time when not all families had two or three or four cars. (One of my neighbors has, count ’em, five.) And it was a very pleasant memory.
As noted earlier, another positive change is the rise of “telework” or telecommuting, which makes so much sense. A story from Atlanta shows how it’s catching on in a city long wedded to the car. Not only are employees happier when they don’t have to slog to the office (gosh, what a surprise), they actually get more done during the day:
But smiles are not enough when considering the bottom line, so Gerace [a telework manager ] has also calculated the savings. On average, he said, there is a 10 percent increase in productivity per employee, and with an average salary of $80,000 for the high-tech workers, Gerace figures he is reaping an extra $8,000 of work from each person each year.
Gerace, like other managers witnessing telework programs, knows that people spend more time working when they don’t have to commute. And when they’re working at home, they’re more likely to respond to e-mail and tie up loose ends at work at night after the kids are in bed, or on the weekend when they have free time.
The full piece is here.