Work & Money briefs

Keeping Track: The long haul to work

More workers choose to drive in alone

The average American's road from home to work is longer and more congested than ever before. One consequence: More commuters are choosing to make the trip in the comfort of their own car.

Three out of every four workers 16 years old and older drove alone to work, according to the 2000 census, a 3 percent increase since 1990.

Experts attribute the growth in the number of solo drivers to the relocation of more Americans to outside urban centers. Small metropolitan areas in the Midwest and South had the highest rates of solo drivers.

Managers adapt slowly to off-site work

The era of off-site work is well under way, but few managers are prepared for it, according to study released by American Business Collaboration (ABC), a consortium of corporations that researches issues concerning dependent care.

More than 80 percent of workers in companies with 500 or more employees either work off-site or are in contact with co-workers who do. But only one of every eight managers has had the training required to appropriately manage these arrangements, according to the report.

"The workforce is being dispersed," says Arlene Johnson, vice president of WFD Consulting, which helped conduct the survey of some 2,000 workers. "Training managers to address this reality is one of the most impactful actions that companies can take to improve their productivity."

Managers trained to handle off-site arrangements show a higher satisfaction level with them than managers who aren't trained. In fact, all managers rated off-site workers at least as high as on-site workers in terms of their productivity, commitment, and overall job satisfaction.

While all workers who spent a large portion of their time outside the main office reported high levels of job satisfaction, those who worked from home expressed more satisfaction than those who traveled heavily, such as salespeople.

Reading and writing and spending, oh my!

With bills mounting from summer vacations, and holiday shopping just around the corner, back-to-school needs arise at a difficult time. The sagging economy has compounded this problem, and as a result, according to Myvesta, a financial health center, the average back-to-school shopper will be spending less on school supplies for the second consecutive year.

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