Posts

Flexible Work

By John Addison (12/26/07). Great organizations are improving employee productivity, increasing retention of key people, and often saving millions of dollars annually. We admire corporations that contribute to the triple bottom line: people, profits, and planet. Flexible work and flexible transportation programs are enabling great employers to achieve all three.

In the Oil and Coal Age, everyone drove solo during gridlock hours to their one work location to toil over their designated machine. Now people are most effective working some days at one location, other times at home, others at a customer or supplier location. We are becoming increasingly flexible and mobile. We can take advantage of the new flexible workplace solutions to annually save hundreds of wasted hours, thousands of gallons of wasted gas, and pocket thousands of dollars.

Currently, over 2,500 Applied Materials employees participate in Applied Anywhere, a comprehensive flexible work location program.

The semiconductor chips in your computers, electronic games, solar panels, and mobile devices are likely to be made with equipment from Applied Materials. Their flexible work location program, Applied Anywhere, addresses their global business environment and provides agility to be closer to the customer as well as supporting the needs of many employees who perform some or their entire job outside the traditional office place. Applied Anywhere supports eligible employees that at different times may need to work from one of several corporate offices, at home, at an airport, or at a customer site.

Ann Zis, a Senior Program Manager for Applied, explained that the program has made global teams more effective, reduced commute hours, increased productivity, and saved gas miles.

The new workforce is mobile; at times working at their office, other times at home, other times at a customer site. Effective mobile working often requires wireless services, Internet services, IP telephony, security, laptops, and a variety of mobile devices. Hundreds of technology companies are benefiting from mobile work include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Nokia, Google, Yahoo, and Symantec.

Flexible work allows millions to travel less. Flexible transportation can enable most employees to save money and fuel when they do travel. 93% of all U.S. car trips are with only one person in the vehicle. The picture is better with work related travel. 12% share rides and 5% use public transit.

Your employer may pay you $1,380 per year, tax free, to use flexible transportation. The IRS allows ridesharing, public transit, and other creative commute options to be reimbursed up to $115 per month tax free in 2008, increased from $110 in 2007. Check-out the commute programs offered by your employer. Investigate regional transit and ridesharing programs. You could save a bundle.

37% of Yahoo! headquarters employees get to work without driving solo, reported Danielle Bricker with Yahoo during my interview with her. Yahoo’s Commute Alternatives Program is comprehensive, popular, and getting results.

As one of two dedicated Commute Coordinators at Yahoo, Danielle practices what she preaches. For four years, she has commuted 90-miles daily without owning a car. She commutes by train, walking to the station at one end, and boarding a Yahoo shuttle for the last mile to work. Living in San Francisco, Daniel will occasionally use CityCarShare to travel a distance at night, or when shopping at multiple locations requires carrying heavier loads.

Yahoo provides employees with free Eco-Passes for bus and light rail on VTA, the area’s rapid transit provider. Employees may also order online discounted passes for other public transit providers. Yahoo has achieved high ridership on public buses, light rail and trains by providing shuttle buses to take its employees to and from major transit stops such as Caltrain and Amtrak. Several full-size contracted buses transport employees to and from their homes in San Francisco.

These buses run on B20 biodiesel. Yahoo further reduces its carbon foot print by using locally grown food for 40% of its cafeteria meals. Cafeteria waste is used for biodiesel production.

Yahoo makes it easy for people to ride together. Yahoo has an intranet site where people can locate other employees near their homes for carpooling. There are special events, education, lunch-and-learns, and weekly education to encourage the growing use of Yahoo’s Commute Alternatives Program. These people use Yahoo!Groups to communicate and stay informed. Some car pools, such as those in Santa Cruz, merged into van pools with one van carrying 15 people. The Santa Cruz van provided by Enterprise includes wi-fi, allowing people to email, Yahoo Message, and create when crawling in stop-and-go traffic.

A number of highways used by ride sharers have high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, allowing car and van poolers to fly by solo drivers stuck in traffic.

Yahoo encourages the use of a zero-emission vehicle owned by one billion people on this planet – the bicycle. Yahoo provides bicyclers with secure storage of their bikes. Free lockers and showers are available. To help people quickly navigate Yahoo’s campus of buildings, loaner bikes are also available.
Many of the Yahoo commuters are able to get extra work done using laptops and other mobile devices while commuting on transit.

Yahoo’s results are impressive, considering that Silicon Valley workers live widely dispersed; many are forced to live miles from Silicon Valley so that they can live in affordable housing. Technologists work long and irregular hours, which makes ridesharing more challenging. Many Silicon Valley locations provide a long and uncomfortable walk in the dark to public transit.

Yahoo addresses these problems in a number of ways. One is that it provides a guaranteed ride home. Yahoo will pay for a late worker’s taxi or rental car. Commute program managers agree that a guaranteed ride home is critical to a commute program’s success. All agreed that employees rarely use the guarantee, making the cost minimal.

Yahoo rewards – employees who come to work without driving alone are rewarded with free lunches, movie tickets and massages. For her tireless work in making the program a success, Danielle Bricker was nominated by fellow employees for one of Yahoo’s most prestigious awards. Out of 14,000 employees, she was recognized with the Super Star Award.

Yahoo’s flexible transportation programs reflect the organization’s commitment to make a difference. Yahoo! is carbon neutral by offsetting its 250,000 metric ton carbon footprint (from 2006) through hydropower in rural Brazil and wind turbines in India.

Each month, a growing wealth of information and solutions to the global warming problem are available to Yahoo’s 500 million users at Yahoo Green.

By taking a carbon neutral approach, Yahoo goes beyond a simple commute program. Yahoo looks for ways to eliminate unnecessary employee trips. Yahoo’s high-tech flexible work allows people to work at home and other locations when appropriate. Employees manage their own work hours, allowing them to avoid the crawl of gridlock hours. When at Yahoo headquarters, employees can take advantage of on-site services to avoid running errands and traveling off-site for meals. Yahoo succeeds in the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.

Effective organizations have gone far beyond having a few employees telecommute. Flexible work is created so that all unnecessary travel is eliminated. Global teams of employees, partners, and customers use the new Internet to effectively work together without always being together in the same building. Solo gridlock commutes are replaced with more healthy and productive travel where mobile work can be done while ride sharing and using public transportation.

Flexible work and flexible travel are greatly helping people to be more productive, save money, and help us achieve energy independence.

Copyright © 2007 John Addison. This article is part of John Addison’s upcoming book, Save Gas, Save the Planet. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report

Avoiding Rush Hour

By John Addison (5/9/07)

Now you can save $1,000 per year, reduce stress and improve your health. How? Never face rush hour alone. Increasingly people are using one or more approaches to avoiding lost hours in gridlock: participating in flexible work, using the HOV lane, riding public transit, and walking. AAA determined that many drivers spend about $8,000 driving their vehicle. Save a $1,000 of that by using one of these strategies.

In the Oil and Coal Age, everyone drove solo during gridlock hours to their one work location to toil over their designated machine. Now people are most effective working some days at one location, other times at home, others at a customer or supplier locations. We can take advantage of the new flexible workplace solutions to annually save hundreds of wasted hours, thousands of gallons of wasted gas, and pocket thousands of dollars. Hewlett Packard saves over 2 million round-trip commutes for its North American employees with an effective Telework program. Info tech meets cleantech.

The semiconductor chips in your computers, electronic games and mobile devices are likely to be made with equipment from Applied Materials. Their program, “Applied Anywhere,” addresses their global business environment and provides agility to be closer to the customer as well as supporting the needs of many employees who perform some or their entire job outside the traditional office place. The program “Applied Anywhere” supports eligible employees that at different times may need to work from one of several corporate offices, at home, at an airport, or at a customer site.

Investigate your employer’s flexible work program or simply spend the next rush hour working at home

It is a joy to sail past gridlock traffic in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. HOV lanes have been a major success in encouraging people to save gas and ride together. A common requirement is that the lane only be used by vehicles with two or more passengers during designated rush hours. It is easy to join a carpool. See if there is one organized at work, or go to your favorite Internet site and type “carpool” and your zip code.

Public transit saved 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline in the USA in 2006. Public transit ridership increased 25% in ten years. 56% of transit trips are work related. Public transit is widely used in cities where light rail and buses are convenient and arrive frequently. 73% of all U.S. public transit rides occur in areas with over 5 million people. Most people in New York and many in Chicago commute to work with public transit.

Lauren Hurley loves living in Chicago. She finds the city alive with people, career opportunities, and places to be. Unlike her bedroom community friends, Lauren does not own a car. She can walk to the grocery store, to friends, and to neighborhood cafe.

Chicago’s bus service takes her to a stop that is a two minute walk to work. Being environmentally concerned, Lauren likes the fact that per person, riding a bus results in only 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions of driving solo. Lauren would not want a car in Chicago, “Parking is a major hassle. Parking lots and parking tickets are quite expensive. Public transit and taxis are more convenient.”

Enjoy a long life. Walk an extra mile each day to improve your health and burn extra calories. You will also help the environment. Next time you are stuck waiting for a parking place, considering parking the car, turning off that engine spewing emissions and walking.

In Washington D.C., eleven percent of the residents walk to work. An added 34% of commuters use public transit combined with some walking.

Ellen De Generes quipped, “My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today, and we don’t know where the heck she is.”

John Addison is the author of the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet and publishes the Clean Fleet Report. This article is copyright John Addison with permission to publish or excerpt with attribution. A related article about Flexible Work and Cool Commutes is at the Clean Fleet Report.