Good feedback from employers who weathered the storm. Better driving habits derived from a glass of water. Best places to work. It's all here in the latest edition of Merging Lanes!
Fortunate Ones: Best Companies to Work for in GA
Fortune recently released its annual roster of the 100 best employers to work for, featuring three venerable Georgia companies that have been mainstays on the magazine’s list over the past several years. Alston + Bird (13), Aflac (57) and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (60) have more in common than just their Georgia roots: all three organizations offer commute options programs that help their employees minimize the hassles of getting to and from work.
Lane ends 2,000 feet.
Revisiting “the winter of our discontent”
While many North Georgia employers wrestled with the weeklong deep freeze in mid-January, more positive stories continue to emerge about those who were equipped to make the week somewhat productive. As these employers note, the capacity to telework brought a decided advantage in the battle versus Mother Nature:
“Having our network accessible by employees from home was the most significant factor in capturing billable hours. Their ability to log in and be productive was huge for us, as we'll have a lot less time to try and make up between now and the end of January.”
-- Ed Cave, President, Veenendaal Cave
“We were able to conduct business for the most part, however, only a few people from the lab were able to work. The leaders of Metametrix were pleased that we were able to continue to work. People that were not connected to the VPN actually called to get connected.”
-- Linda Thompson, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Metametrix
Vocalocity worked with Midtown Transportation Solutions and The Clean Air Campaign to formalize a telework policy, which, combined with their VoIP technology helped ensure that the company worked efficiently from home.
NOTE: This Friday from 8am to 9:30am, The Clean Air Campaign will host a special seminar on business continuity at the Metro Atlanta Chamber, adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park. Interested employers can RSVP for this free event by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lane ends 1,000 feet.
If you build it, they will come.
Downtown Atlanta’s future as the nucleus of rail and bus transit came into focus as the Georgia Department of Transportation began conversations with engineering and design firms on plans for a major facility to be located near the Five Points MARTA station. The project is being billed as one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the country, which would bring new options to commuters and prime location advantages to all types of employers.
Lane ends 500 feet.
Old school approach to efficient driving gets a new twist.
Ever heard of the old “glass of water” trick, where you place a full glass of water on the dashboard of your car with the goal of driving gently enough not to spill it? No hard turns. No aggressive starts or stops. The benefits to driving this way of course are greater fuel economy and fewer emissions. And now, there’s an app developed by engineers at Toyota for this old school approach. Drivers can get performance data on their efforts to identify where there is room for improvement. And if their carpool partner happens to be feeling a little parched, well …
The last visible signs of Atlanta’s “Big Chill” are melting away today. And as employers finish thawing out their operations from the deep freeze, the staggering totals of a lost week of productivity are staring the region in the face: the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University reports the business community lost an estimated $300 million last week. That has many employers asking the question, “What could we have done differently to keep our business moving?”
At the same time, some employers stared down the icy mess and didn’t blink. For them, the capacity to telework made the circumstances of last week “business as usual.” Shaw Industries kept the wheels moving with a business continuity plan that included telework and had this to say:
"Having a teleworking program in place at Shaw is one of the ways we are able to help ensure the safety and well-being of our associates during extreme winter weather conditions like those we experienced this week. In addition to those associates who routinely telework as part of their normal schedule, we also asked all managerial and administrative associates in the affected areas to telework this week until they could safely get to their offices. While we temporarily closed or delayed shifts at several of our manufacturing facilities, having a telework program and the associated technology in place meant that some of our associates were also able to conduct business as usual this week from the warmth and safety of their own homes."
-- Paul Richard, Vice President Human Resources, Shaw Industries Group, Inc.
One thing we all learned last week is that the notion of preparedness is relative. There’s only so much we can control. The rest is about making the best of a given situation. And from a productivity lens, that’s what telework allowed many of us to do when we couldn’t get out of our neighborhoods.
So, to the region’s employers that are searching for ways to shore up their business continuity plans, The Clean Air Campaign has lots of relevant ideas to help you get started.
Atlanta commuters, employers and schools are seeking to gain traction Thursday as icy conditions drag into Day Four.
Some workers have literally camped out at work during the week, while others are making the best of it by teleworking and adapting their routines. The situation over these past few days also has one state legislator convinced that more access to rail transit in Georgia could keep business moving forward in the face of seasonal weather and year-round traffic congestion issues.
Speaking of transit, here's a rundown of current service from major metro region providers for Thursday:
- MARTA reports rail service is online and about a dozen bus routes are running Thursday.
- GRTA Xpress is running limited service into downtown, but notes the only departure point for afternoon service will go out of Civic Center Station.
- Cobb County Transit reports local service is operational but express routes are limited for Thursday.
- Gwinnett County Transit advises that service is available on a limited schedule for today.
The big question many news outlets are asking on Day Three of this January snow storm is, "How much is this storm going to cost Georgia businesses in lost productivity?"
Across Metro Atlanta, media reports are still showing that many business operations remain idle as of Wednesday, as workers encounter impassible roads and limited transit access.
AJC is reporting MARTA has established limited bus service on Wednesday, and rail service is running on weekend hours ... but Gwinnett County Transit is still offline. Same story with Cobb County Transit.
Where's the finish line? According to 90.1 WABE-FM, warmer temps are coming for the weekend. Until then, continue to be careful out there! If you have to venture out on the roads, check GDOT's Georgia NaviGAtor tool online or dial 511 for up-to-date road conditions.
Snowy conditions on Monday across North Georgia gave way to icy conditions on Tuesday that continued to disrupt employers, commuters and schools. MARTA indicates on its website that bus service is still offline for Tuesday. GDOT advises not to travel on metro Atlanta roads today, where several bottlenecks have occurred.
They call it stormy Monday. Wintry weather has descended on North and Middle Georgia, disrupting the routines for Georgia employers, commuters and schools. The Georgia DOT is working to clear roads and advising motorists to stay off interstates and secondary roads unless absolutely necessary.
NOTE: WXIA 11 Alive is reporting in Atlanta that MARTA has canceled bus service for all of Monday. Rail lines are reported to be operating.
These weather conditions present the valuable opportunity to remind employers to revisit business continuity plans so work can get done remotely. The Clean Air Campaign has resources to help employers tackle these issues. When your operations thaw out, get in touch with our telework experts.
With the cunning stealth of a swamp crocodile, gas prices throughout Georgia have crept back above the $3 mark and pounced on Georgia commuters. It's been a long, quiet ascent - which is perhaps why commuters have continued to tolerate the bite from this increase, unlike the wild ride in 2008 that brought about less driving. Are we headed for a repeat of those volatile times?
The distant speculation about paying $5 a gallon for gas in the future has received lots of attention after a former oil executive offered his dire prediction for 2012. Maybe this is what the Mayans were all worked up about with regard to 2012. But The Atlantic this week published a good reminder that tomorrow can wait. Today's "gas pains" are uncomfortable enough as it is, especially in Atlanta.
As more commuters sharpen their pencils and work to wrangle household budgeting for present times, The Atlantic suggests that policymakers jump in and do more to alleviate the burden of rising fuel prices by encouraging telework, ridesharing and tax relief for employers who get behind commute options programs.
Good news, folks. Georgia already has the infrastructure in place to do this and more. The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have been in front of this issue for more than a decade now, working with more than 1,600 employers and tens of thousands of commuters across the state. These groups knew where to turn for fiscal relief when the petrol pandemonium of 2008 jumped up and grabbed them, as evidenced by the 100% uptick in program participation by employers and the threefold increase in commuter incentives participants. So bring it on, volatile gas prices. We're still here ... and in 2011, we're ready to help Georgians in even more ways.