In the Luumlight

Amazon Keynote Recap from Luuminary20

Luuminary20 — Luum’s inaugural commuter benefit conference for employers — kicked off with a dazzling and informative keynote address from Tim Waldrop. Tim is the Transportation Program Manager at Amazon and oversees employee parking and transportation programs at corporate locations across the United States. 

Tim’s keynote — entitled Start Small, Achieve Big jumped right into the prime movers behind Amazon’s commute program evolution. They were:

  • Growth that outpaced the region’s ability to scale as quickly as Amazon
  • Employee concerns around sustainability
  • System fatigue

On the first point, it’s Amazon, so no surprise here. They have grown and scaled operations at an exponentially astounding rate. When this happens everyone must play catch up. With a large number of employees relying on transit, walking, and parking (mostly alone)—Amazon sought out ways in which to better serve their commuters and the wider community. Public transit agencies were feeling the burden of a dramatic increase in downtown riders, which required the roll out of supplemental programs and, in turn, more management and oversight of these programs. 

This gets us to point two — employee concerns. Like many growing organizations, Amazon saw the impetus for their program by listening to their commuters and, more importantly, responding to their shared desire for sustainable practices around the commute. They were able to put together internal stakeholders that understood the value of creating a program that met commuter needs while utilizing the most sustainable business practices. 

Finally, Amazon realized early on that stacking technologies atop each other to solve one off problems — be it parking, mobility options, et al. — would be untenable in the long run. Therefore, they sought more holistic technologies capable of integrating with their existing enterprise applications — from payroll and HR to parking systems and mobility services.  

Flex Commuter Subsidy

Next, Tim shared one of Amazon’s solutions towards creating a more equitable and flexible benefit program for all their commuters via the rollout of a Flex Commuter Subsidy (FCS). This subsidy was designed as a benefit for those who don’t park and want to utilize shared modes like carpool, offsite parking, Lyft Line, and Uber Pool. Amazon offers a separate subsidy for transit cards and vanpools.

The Amazon FCS offers flexibility to a very important employee subset with dynamic commuter needs. The subsidy was built with a focus on future-proofing for growth and commuter flexibility as new mobility apps come on the market. It scales quickly and offers region-specific modifications in order to serve up the mobility products and services available by location.

Amazon also added controls to this program within Luum to ensure its efficacy and to protect against misuse. The Luum support team—in concert with simple payroll integration tools—was able to set up an Amazon payroll compliant solution to make the delivery of this commuter-friendly subsidy a breeze.

Amazon Bellevue Bike Benefit Pilot

With a focus that’s historically been on parking—and a large group of daily transit riders—Amazon dove into their commuter data to identify the biking contingent among their Bellevue workforce. In doing so, they recognized that there were gaps in the Bellevue transit system that made the possibility of a benefit for biking to work all the more viable. They are continuing to assess the needs of the employees who take advantage of this benefit and are looking to start a pilot program. 

The Covid Future

Like many organizations, Amazon views this time as an opportunity to bring even more and better benefits to their employees through the commute. With work from home numbers at an all time high—and many wanting to return to the office—they are focusing on demand based programming. 

Amazon realizes that with a shift in commute patterns they will need to remain agile when it comes to benefits and goal-setting. The key to ensuring their commuters are happy will be found in a clear communications strategy. This is where Luum remains crucial as the single source of truth for commute messaging and information for employees. 

While predicting the commute, especially parking behavior, is difficult to diagnose—Amazon is committed to making use of both carrot and stick incentives and striking the right balance for their commuters. 

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