Archive for the ‘Telework’ Category

The Connect Downtown Partnership recently conducted a transportation survey of downtown Bellevue commuters and residents to determine the commute habits, motivations and program awareness of individuals within set boundaries of downtown. The survey was developed with the intention of determining what messaging would best target this audience, and will be used to inform future programming, branding and messaging of Choose Your Way Bellevue.

The survey was taken by 394 individuals, 61% of whom were commuters to downtown Bellevue, 37% of whom were downtown residents that commute to other locations, and 2% of whom who both lived and worked in downtown. The survey went out in postcard form to all residents of downtown Bellevue, was posted in commercial buildings and was live on the Choose Your Way Bellevue website May 1 through June 14, 2011.

The majority of survey respondents commuted to work by driving alone (44.8%). In explaining their top reasons for doing so, respondents listed that were no reasonable transit options, they require the use of a car for errands before and after work, and because it saves time.  37% of this population reported that increased bus service would motivate them to ditch their vehicles, though in an illuminating statistic, 22.7% of drivers indicated that nothing would encourage them to change their habits.

Riding the bus was the second most cited commute method, comprising 21% of the mode-share, followed by carpool at 10.4%. The top reason for using both these modes was cost savings. Respondents also cited stress reduction, time savings, convenience and an employer subsidy for doing so. 5.5% of respondents walked to work, and 2% of respondents reported cycling to work.

When respondents were asked about general motivators contributing to their choice of commute mode, the top three reasons were convenience, cost savings and time savings. The top impacts to commute mode choice were transit service levels, traffic levels, and gas prices.

Respondents were also asked the minimum monthly financial incentive that would encourage them to try a non drive-alone mode. The majority of people indicated that $50 would help them make a change, though $100 was the second most oft-cited amount.

These results are quite illuminating as Choose Your Way Bellevue moves forward in branding, messaging and programming efforts directed towards downtown residents and employees. It is clear that we are working with a primarily drive-alone population, and there are some major obstacles to overcome to change these habits.

Considering that neither Sound Transit or King County Metro are in a financial position to expand service in the near future, we will not be able to use that as a motivating factor to encourage non-drive alone habits. Furthermore, there is a segment of the population who claims they would never change their method, which is understandable given that the ample amount of free parking in Bellevue keeps the actual costs to drivers down.

But perhaps we could do a better job at quantifying the cost savings, stress reduction and health benefits of participating in alternate commute modes. Driving eats up a large portion of American’s annual budget, and is the second highest cost behind housing,  but because driving has become so normalized in our culture, these costs remain invisible to many people. Whether it’s getting people excited about what they could do with the money saved by not driving, or demonstrating how often during peak travel times, driving isn’t actually faster (which my anecdotal evidence on I-90 overwhelmingly supports), there must be a way to show it visually, either through infographics or videos.

Additionally, walkers and cyclists overwhelmingly report being happier and healthier commuters, so we ought to encourage them to be more vocal (though not evangelical!) about their commute stories. Cycling burns an average of 300 calories per hour, and walking burns 136. Compare that to the 80 or so you burn while sedentary (car commuting) and active transportation starts to look like a winning option, eliminating the need for extra time at the gym and requiring no monetary contribution beyond start up costs.

But the reality is that most people live far enough away from their jobs that walking or cycling is not a viable option—only 6% of workers in Downtown Bellevue report actually living downtown, and the average commute distance is 14 miles. There’s always the possibility of combining active transportation with public transportation, and 7% of our respondents indicated being multi-modal commuters. But commuters tend to dread transfers, which add stress and uncertainty what can often be a lengthy commute.

Stay tuned—our next post will be about programs around the country that are encouraging people to live closer to where they work, which will help to alleviate some of the necessary driving wrought by extended distances between home and work.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 10:43 AM | by admin | Comments (2)
session board

Photo by TransportationCamp on Flickr

We at Choose Your Way Bellevue are geeked (literally) to report back from Transportation Camp, which took place in San Francisco this past weekend. A great mix of entrepreneurs, transit nerds, policy makers, activists, and students assembled under a disco ball to tackle the question: How can we use data to improve our cities and transportation systems?

Sponsored by Open Plans and the Rockefeller Foundation, Transportation Camp is a relatively new concept referred to as an “unconference”(also popular in the tech world because they reflect the culture of the industry) with a hands-on, flexible, a little casual but very hard working and fun to the extreme approach. Instead of a set schedule and droning speakers, every attendee at Transportation Camp had the opportunity to suggest or lead a breakout session, panel discussion or Q&A, and was encouraged to be as creative as possible.  Topics up for discussion ran the gamut of “sexy transit,” “building apps for livable streets,” and “the perils of privatization,” which resulted in delightful and sometimes unexpected conversations. Questions like, what makes a liveable street? Can mobile applications be built that facilitate street life? What are the best practices being deployed by transportation demand management groups across the globe? and How can social media be leveraged to generate more on the ground involvement? were asked.

The majority of the sessions were geared towards addressing the current reality: with accelerating technology and recent census figures pouring in, many municipal governments have unprecedented access to data sets and are trying to figure out what to do with them.  Attendees had the goal of brainstorming how to package this information in a way that is transparent, accountable, and efficient.

While attendees may not have arrived at any answers, there were definitely some concrete conclusions. Consensus abounded that information should be and wants to be made public, and that in order to facilitate and maintain democracy, it should be shared in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Attendees also agreed that nonprofit groups are essential at bridging the divide between public and private entities, and are well positioned to introduce new technologies to a diverse range of constituencies. Everyone acknowledged that web developers are notorious for existing in silos, and deemed it integral that they be encouraged, maybe even incentivized, to talk with citizens about how to build apps that would actually be useful and valuable to them. Groups like Code For America, which collaborates with selected cities throughout the United States to transform data into something which encourages citizen participation and civic building, were featured. 

What are your reactions? Could access to data really improve the transportation system? Are there mobile applications that would make you more likely to use transit? Would knowing the transportation habits of your co-workers make you want to change your behavior? Do you think real-time ridesharing could work in our region? What about connecting your transit pass to a carsharing service? The possibilities are as endless as a data set:  Share your thoughts below!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 2:07 PM | by admin | Comments (1)

Are you interested in telework but have questions about how a work from home program could be successfully implemented at your company? Choose Your Way Bellevue works with telework expert Rick Albiero, CEO of the Telecomuting Advantage Group (TAG). Submit your telework questions to our expert here, or read on for previous Q&A’s requested publicly on the Telework Bellevue Ask an Expert page. And be sure to check back for more telework questions and answers from our expert. The Q&A’s are featured here on the Choose Your Way Bellevue blog on a monthly basis.

Question 4:  We are concerned about data security and the amount of traffic our Intranet system can handle. Is this typically a major investment that companies need to make associated with telecommuting?

Rick’s Reply: The technology that supports telework/telecommuting programs has not only become much less expensive over the last several years, but it is also much more robust, user-friendly, and in many cases does not require the purchase of new hardware. Financial and health institutions have found that these systems are robust enough to meet federal requirements.  We also work with several architecture and engineering companies that have no problem with data security needs or handling very large drawing files. Other benefits of these systems are that they track and control access to files, provide file revision control and allow employees to be productive while travelling, working remotely and at client sites. Microsoft, Citrix Online, Adobe and other software providers offer online collaboration tools that support teleworkers at a very low price point. If you have more specific questions or would like additional information feel free to contact TAG.

Friday, February 4th, 2011 5:57 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Are you interested in telework but have questions about how a work from home program could be successfully implemented at your company? Choose Your Way Bellevue works with telework expert Rick Albiero, CEO of the Telecomuting Advantage Group (TAG). Submit your telework questions to our expert here, or read on for previous Q&A’s requested publicly on the Telework Bellevue Ask an Expert page. And be sure to check back for more telework questions and answers from our expert. The Q&A’s are featured here on the Choose Your Way Bellevue blog on a monthly basis.

Question 3: We hear about productivity gains from teleworkers.  Where do they come from and has anyone actually measured them?

Rick’s Reply: Productivity gains come from multiple sources.  Teleworkers experience fewer disruptions while they are working allowing them longer periods of concentration.  Teleworkers often have more flexible work hours, allowing them to accomplish job-tasks during their peak work hours.  The ongoing discussion of “morning vs. night” people does have a basis in the fact that some employees may be the most productive in the morning and others late in the afternoon or early evening.  Allowing employees the option of working during these hours, rather than being in the middle of the commute, is likely going to increase the amount of work they accomplish.  Add in more effective time management, reduced absenteeism and the feeling of empowerment they experience and employees experience an almost effortless level of increased productivity.

Many organizations have implemented telework metrics and collect productivity data and/or conduct employee surveys.  Some examples include American Express and Alpine Access who both report an increase of over 25% among teleworking sales and support agents.  Sun Microsystems found that teleworkers contribute 60% of the time that they used to spend commuting getting work done.  Best Buy’s average productivity is up 35% due to their flexible work program.

Friday, January 21st, 2011 1:45 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Michelle Goodman, author of the “The Anti 9-to-5 Guide” and the primary contributing writer of the Nine to Thrive blog on NWJobs.com, may have some of the best telework tips around.

If you’re planning to speak with your boss soon about this increasingly popular alternative commute option, check out these posts where Goodman offeres insight (and some scientific proof!) that you can use to make your telework case stronger:

If you’ve experimented with teleworking or have done it for years, comment below and let us know how about your experience. What resources were most helpful in making the switch?

Friday, December 17th, 2010 4:58 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Are you interested in telework but have questions about how a work from home program could be successfully implemented at your company? Choose Your Way Bellevue works with telework expert Rick Albiero, CEO of the Telecomuting Advantage Group (TAG). Submit your telework questions to our expert here, or read on for previous Q&A’s requested publicly on the Telework Bellevue Ask an Expert page. And be sure to check back for more telework questions and answers from our expert. The Q&A’s will be featured on the Choose Your Way Bellevue blog on a monthly basis.

Question 2: We have a few people who telework by necessity and are considering expanding the program.  What steps should we take and are there any risks?

Rick’s Reply: The steps that you need to take are directly related to the risks that you are concerned about.  An important step is communicating the fact that the telework program will be made available to everyone but there will be requirements in order to apply.  A thorough policy that includes participation requirements, materials and equipment that will be made be made available to them through your organization, how support will be handled and performance requirements should be developed.  The goals of the program, for employees and your organization should also be communicated.  These steps will help you avoid one of the biggest risks which is equity issues.  We also recommend that managers receive support and information about the program and how it will affect their jobs.  This step will help reduce manager resistance to the program.  The risks of an informal program, including work disruptions and potential equity issues far outweigh the risks of implementing a well structured telework program.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010 10:50 AM | by admin | Add a Comment

Are you interested in telework but have questions about how a work from home program could be successfully implemented at your company? Choose Your Way Bellevue works with telework expert Rick Albiero, CEO of the Telecomuting Advantage Group (TAG). Submit your telework questions to our expert here, or read on for previous Q&A’s requested publicly on the Telework Bellevue Ask an Expert page. And be sure to check back for more telework questions and answers from our expert. The Q&A’s will be featured on the Choose Your Way Bellevue blog on a monthly basis.

Question 1: What are the risks associated with telecommuting in terms of liability, workers’ compensation, illegal activities in the household, etc.?

Rick’s Reply: A quick disclaimer. Telecomuting Advantage Group (TAG) is not a legal firm. You should confirm any information with a Labor attorney. This response is based on TAG’s experiences and information obtained from our Labor attorneys. A link has been included below that provides information about OSHA’s removal of home-based workers from OSHA standards. In effect, the employee becomes responsible for the safety of their work location, cleaning up spills, toys, etc. As an employer it is still important that you provide both home-office safety and ergonomic guidelines and include a location in your telework agreement that indicates that they have read and understand them. There are exceptions, such as employees who work with hazardous materials, in which the employer may still be held liable. Third-parties, whether co-workers, customers or suppliers are not allowed to conduct meetings at a teleworker’s home-location as the liability laws are not the same as those for the teleworker. Workers’ Comp issues have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. As you most likely do not have consistent visibility of how and where the employee is working, you cannot ensure that they are following the ergonomic guidelines. Again, the policy should state that they must have a suitable telework site and follow the ergonomic guidelines, but if an employee disregards these and files a complaint for something like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome it is up to the employer to determine how to proceed. This is true for any Worker’s Comp issue that may have occurred in the workplace as a result of conducting everyday work. If an employee is participating in illegal activities not associated with the employer while working from home the employer is not responsible. If an employee is using their employer’s data-files, personal information or other employer data the employer will have to show that they put sufficient safeguards in place, possibly including language in the policy, sufficient data access security, password protections, an office or filing cabinet that can be locked or other measures to allow a teleworker to handle data safely. Tracking data access via a remote terminal server or software such as GoToMyPC will allow eDiscovery tracking. Here is a link to the OSHA ruling: www.computerworld.com/s/article/40989/Telecommuters_Exempt_From_OSHA_Rules.

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 1:19 PM | by admin | Add a Comment