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Transportation Projects: Latest News

Making Smart Commuting More Accessible

MBEP is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the region, and how we move within and between our cities has a major impact on the well-being of our neighborhoods and residents. As we all experience every day, our region is connected by a limited series of highways and main arteries, and as a result suffers from a great deal of traffic congestion (2017 Baseline Metrics). Limiting single driver car trips is one way to reduce this congestion. Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) is investing in getting our region the information, incentives, and encouragement to make different choices about travel behavior. MBEP is working with our over 80 members to encourage “smart commuting” through the MBEP Mobility Platform, a framework that helps us all get out of our cars by reducing, re-timing, re-routing and re-moding our travel around the region. Utilizing the varied components of MBEP’s Mobility Platform, we can re-think how we move around the region and build on the good work our transportation agencies are doing. Click on the image below to download a PDF version of our Mobility Platform graphic.

Navigating the Transition to Sustainable Telework Programs

In response to federal regulations and uncertainties presented by COVID-19, employees across the country abruptly found themselves working from home. Even the most well-prepared companies had to modify and adapt existing telework programs to meet a set of new challenges that were amplified by the added stress of school closures and anxiety posed by the novel pandemic. The Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s (TAMC) Go831 Smart Commute Program, and other central coast agencies put together a 4-part webinar series in May highlighting best practices to help employers, managers and employees navigate the transition and develop successful telework programs. They polled participants prior to the series and found that 56% did not work from home before the lockdown, and now over 85% of the 500 respondents are working from home the majority of the time. With that in mind, these webinars were designed to guide managers and employees looking to enhance telework programs and policies, from setting goals and establishing priorities, realistic deadlines and creating clear action plans to monitor and track measurable deliverables and effective outcomes. A management feedback guide is included on the series recap page along with webinar recordings and other resources such as childcare tips, a checklist for determining if a position is conducive for telework, ergonomic stretches, and more. 

Here are three steps to kick off a successful program:

  1. Define a policy that fits the organizational culture to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing support. Gather data and assess how workspaces are used and when, and which roles need them or use them the most to determine which positions are most suitable for telework. 
  2. Deploy the right technologies, then train managers and teleworkers on how to use them to enhance collaboration and communication. Keep workers engaged. Develop a sense of ownership and community to maintain productivity. 
  3. Implement workplace flexibility. Introducing alternative schedules such as flexible hours or compressed work weeks show improvements in employee effectiveness, health, and career growth. 

Participants in the series note the benefits of a telework policy and program that go beyond the continuity of operations such as increased levels of productivity, greater employee recruitment and retention opportunities, enhanced communication, a sense of team cohesion, better work-life balance, potential overhead savings, and positive environmental impacts. Kate Lisden, President of Global Workplace Analytics Research Firm, estimates “56% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work. We know that currently, only 3.6% of the employee workforce works at home half-time or more.”

TAMC is encouraging employees and managers to seize this opportunity to advocate for a telecommuting policy and/or program. Their Go831 Program is the place to go for trip reduction planning and outlines three steps to get employees set-up for successful telework. For those who have to be at a worksite, TAMC can also offer resources to support park and walk, and biking opportunities while advocating for more bike- and pedestrian-friendly cities. As Monterey County’s resource and service hub, Go831 ensures telework remains widely permitted and supported in the post-pandemic era as a way to keep workers safe and healthy while contributing to meaningful emissions and traffic-reductions goals. The County, for example, is working on a policy that would open up telecommuting to more employees. Sustainability Program Manager, Ashley Paulsworth, says “ the County will see significant emissions reductions due to telecommuting during COVID-19.” As part of her 2030 Municipal Climate Action Plan strategy, Ashley is recommending a goal on telecommuting, which encourages about 25% of the County’s employees to telecommute 2-3 days per week reducing emissions from employee commute by 31% by the year 2030. At present, employee commuting represents close to half of the County’s carbon footprint.

Smaller organizations and nonprofits like the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership can start with a simple policy such as, “Employees are not required to clock in, and can work remotely at the discretion of their manager. Certain meetings will require in-person attendance rather than call-ins, also at the discretion of the manager.” Additionally, employers can pull from Go831’s employer benefits page and MBEP’s smart commuting toolkit or white paper for additional resources on tax incentives, for example. Lastly, Go831 staff is available to help design or modify a plan that fits the employer’s needs to operate safely, efficiently, and effectively. “The COVID-19 lockdown has enabled the country to execute a transportation experiment at an almost unfathomable scale,” says Brookings Institution analysts. The results should give us hope that, with new telework policies, it’s possible to revive the economy while maintaining the environmental and health benefits of greatly reduced traffic and cleaner air. 

If you would like assistance with telework policy and smart commute programming, please contact Theresa Wright at theresa@tamcmonterey.org. If you already have a successful policy/program in place and would like to share it with others in our region, please contact agauer@mbep.biz