How Employers Are Helping Workers Commute Safely During the Pandemic
[The following is an excerpt from an article written by Joseph Romsey and published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on October 21, 2020.]
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated working from home, as well as flexible scheduling and other flexible work arrangements. With so much uncertainty about public health, many employees don’t feel safe commuting to work every day.
“The pandemic has been a shock to the system,” said Sohier Hall, CEO of Seattle-based commuter benefits platform Luum, “and that shock has been unevenly distributed, impacting essential workers differently from white-collar and knowledge workers.” While many employees continue to work from home, Hall noted, “60 percent of the workforce still goes into work every day.”
“There’s been a whole rethink about subsidies, reimbursements and policies to support the commute,” Hall said. The monthly subway pass or monthly parking pass has become less relevant in a landscape of staggered schedules and employees working partially from home, partially in the office. “So many of our clients have asked us to offer flexible daily parking” and parking reservations, Hall said.
Here are some of the transportation and commuter options employers have developed:
- Offering employees incentives for active commuting, such as by bike, electric bike or scooter.
- Providing a means for “closed-network” employee carpooling that enables contact tracing.
- Offering corporate shuttles with seat reservations for social distancing as well as contact tracing.
- Offering stipends for parking so employees can drive alone instead of taking public transportation.
- Offering stipends to use ride-hailing services and cabs.