Employers offer relief to high gas prices
DURHAM No relief is in sight, crude oil prices set another record high Monday afternoon. The daily commute is the reason some drivers are struggling to keep their tanks full. A happy driver is a happy worker, a fact major employers in the Triangle are quickly learning. At $4 a gallon, people are driving to work, to work for gas. So it's no wonder why UNC Chapel Hill has issued an internal memo encouraging all its departments to offer employees flexible hours, flexible schedules and flexible work locations. "I think having a flexible work schedule is one way to eliminate the stress," said Delphine Goines with Duke University. Delphine Goines and her assistant Valerie Hightower do a lot of walking on Duke's campus where a similar policy has been in place since 2004. Hightower spends at least one day working from home. She takes a shuttle to work, saving money. "And you're more productive. Actually, I wind up working more on the days I work from home," she said. However, UNC, Duke and NC State admit not all employees can take advantage of the flexible schedules and they're not alone. "I'm a traveling salesman in North and South Carolina," said Neal Painter, a commuter. Painter averages 1500 miles a week. He says there is no flexibility, just creativity. "If you set up appointments with customers, you have to do it in clusters so you don't have to travel so far … it's tough," he said. According to the last census, the Triangle had the second highest commute time nationwide.