Posts tagged with telework
Margaret Mead wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order in September 2012 challenging one Georgia group to be thoughtful and make a positive change within the State. This Order encouraged State of Georgia Agencies and employees to set the precedent for inspiring change from other Georgians and employers in regards to making “smarter” commute choices in their daily commutes to and from work. It’s also a key strategic effort to enhance customer service that State Agency employees provide every day.
The result? A State of Georgia clean commuting initiative, in partnership with The Clean Air Campaign, called Georgia CommuteSmart.
More State of Georgia employees are riding transit, carpooling, and teleworking to keep single occupancy vehicles off Georgia’s roadways, leading to less traffic and cleaner air. In addition to the amazing environmental impact that clean commuting provides, we are seeing State of Georgia employees who are loving their cleaner commutes and raving on the positive impacts.
Laynea Allen, a Human Resources professional with the Georgia Department of Administrative Services reiterates that Georgia CommuteSmart attracts and retains, and encourages productive employees.
“With the changing face of the workforce, commuting options are increasingly becoming a selling point for both hiring and retaining employees. CommuteSmart’s education program has started to reach all facets of our workforce, from auditors to educators to programmers. New applicants increasingly inquire about how our workplace promotes green commuting options, while current employees and managers are working together on creative ways to get work done by incorporating teleworking where possible. At the end of the day, the goal is a more engaged and effective workforce. CommuteSmart brings those goals together by inviting everyone to think outside the box toward a common goal and utilize all tools available.”
Georgia CommuteSmart and the State of Georgia are setting the bar high with their encouragement of clean commute options. Georgia employers, are you ready to follow suit?
Lettie Hernandez Ongie is an Employer Program Manager with The Clean Air Campaign. For the past six years, she has assisted the State of Georgia’s various agencies with implementing clean commute options and programs, her personal favorites being Telework & Compressed Work Weeks. An avid teleworker, Lettie enjoys using her extra hour saved on telework days to spend time with family and blog.
Season’s Greetings! Georgia employers and commuters stand at the threshold of a new year. But before we pass through, it’s worth reflecting on 2012, and what a remarkable year it has been for transportation and air quality issues in Georgia. Merging Lanes breaks down a handful of the events that shaped a year of big decisions in the metro Atlanta region and around the state.
EPA Introduces Tighter Air Quality Standards
The US Environmental Protection Agency finalized in the spring a standard for ground-level ozone (originally discussed in 2008) and issued designations to illustrate which areas comply with the standard and which do not. In all, 15 counties in metro Atlanta do not meet this new standard, which represents an improvement over the 20+ counties that were previously found not to meet the prior standard. Air quality is improving in Georgia. But the balance between long-term population growth and increased demand for energy and transportation is a fragile one, in terms of environmental impact.
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Atlanta Takes a Detour from Transportation Penny Sales Tax
The nation was watching when metro Atlanta voters voiced their opposition to a penny sales tax to fund a list of 157 transportation projects in the region over the course of a decade. With no windfall options for funding large-scale expansion to the region’s existing transportation network, the conversation turned to developing a “Plan B” alternative. According to a recent poll conducted for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 76% of Atlantans feel traffic is a major problem. But not everyone agrees on how improving transportation should be paid for. While 10% suggested increasing the motor fuel tax we all pay for gasoline, 39% suggested carving out transportation funds by adding more tax to alcohol and tobacco purchases. Another 16% indicated they would favor a special sales tax to pay for transportation. One thing is for certain: if the region can again harness even a fraction of the interest in this issue demonstrated by the business community in the future, anything is possible to beat back traffic.
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Third-Annual Georgia Telework Piques Conversations on Scalability
Underscoring the increasing adoption of telework as a business strategy to improve operations, more than 100 Georgia employers in the public and private sectors showed their support for Georgia Telework Week. This commute option has continued to grow as an integral part of the way business is done in the Atlanta region, where each week more than 336,000 commuters are teleworking. The week also drew more attention to the nearly-quarter-million commuters who believe their jobs are conducive to telework but have not yet received approval from management to do it. In terms of raw potential, the impact of putting this group to work at their home computer instead of their office computer could erase the equivalent of the total daily traffic volume on the top end of I-285.
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Inaugural Bike to Work Challenge Celebrates Pedal Power
Each week in the Atlanta region, more than 20,000 commute trips are made by bicycle. With new findings from the medical community that warn about the risks of sedentary living – including the time we log behind the wheel in traffic – plus an energetic community of bicycling enthusiasts, The Clean Air Campaign, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and regional partners hosted the first-ever Bike to Work Challenge. This month-long event held in October featured a points-based competition for individuals and teams of all skill levels, inviting rookie bike commuters to learn the ropes from grizzled cycling veterans. The response was off the charts: over 17,000 bicycle commute trips were logged, resulting in 130,000 miles of vehicle travel eliminated from Georgia roads.
In this year of big decisions, hats off to the more than 1,000 bicycle commuters who decided to drive their bikes to work as part of this event. Here’s to more commuters making more of these kinds of decisions in 2013.
Brian Carr is Director of Communications at The Clean Air Campaign, one of several organizations in the Atlanta region that deliver Georgia Commute Options programs and services in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation. A daily MARTA rail rider, Brian uses his morning commute time on the Blue Line to read about current events and play "Words With Friends."
At Coca-Cola Refreshments Customer Care, we love to use the motto, “Live Positively.” It is our way of showing our commitment to sustainability in everything we do. As part of that commitment, we introduced a telework program in 2004. Following a highly successful pilot program, we partnered with The Clean Air Campaign in 2005 to make teleworking available to all employees at our Alpharetta-based location. Since that time, our program has grown rapidly. Currently, we have 425 associates—more than 50 percent of our workforce—who telework five days a week, using the opportunity to avoid the hassles of traffic congestion and have a productive workday.
Our teleworking associates make a significant contribution to our company’s sustainability efforts. Each workday, they collectively eliminate 850 commute trips, keeping more than 7 tons of pollution out of the air we breathe. They also save nearly $7,000 in gas and car-related expenses each day.
The results of our telework program have not only benefitted our associates’ wallets, but also improved productivity and morale. Recent internal surveys show that our associates not only enjoy the convenience of working from home, but also the additional time they get to spend with their families because they no longer have to sit in traffic.
Beyond these altruistic benefits, telework has also proven to be a very cost-efficient business strategy. We have reduced real estate expenses because we need less square footage for our operations with more employees working remotely. Our teleworking arrangement is truly a win-win for our company and our workforce, allowing us to deploy associates so they can be more efficient and better serve our customers.
This week we are proud to support Georgia Telework Week. Now in its third year, the week is designed to educate employers about the benefits of telework as a strategy that yields improvedemployee satisfaction, cost savings for companies, environmental stewardship and increased productivity in the workplace.
Georgia Telework Week is just as much a call for employers to establish new telework programs as it is a celebration of employers who have previously-established programs. In metro Atlanta, some 250,000 commuters have jobs they believe are conducive to this type of program, but their employers have not given the green light for them to telework. Just think of all the traffic congestion this region could alleviate - and the productivity gains that would result – if these commuters were to work from home even occasionally. There has never been a better time to join the movement.
Luiz Montoro is a Customer Care project manager for Coca-Cola Refreshments
Metro Atlanta and surrounding cities continue to grow and prosper, which in turn brings more traffic to our region. A solution has proven to be successful in not only reducing traffic congestion, but also increasing employee productivity and morale, as well as company retention and reputation; this is telework, and next week kicks off the third-annual Georgia Telework Week, which seeks to build awareness about teleworking success across the state.
Since 2007, teleworking has increased among metro Atlanta commuters 20%. This growing trend allows employees more flexibility. Teleworkers enjoy this alternative because of the huge savings on fuel, clothing, food and even shaving supplies. Employers are using it to increase in productivity by as much as 20%, and reduce overhead costs anywhere from 10% to 90%. Here are some anecdotal examples that reinforce the notion that it’s not about where work gets done, but it’s about getting work done:
- One teleworker spends half of his one telework day a week at home and the other half at a restaurant with two other coworkers. They have found that they have fewer distractions than being at the office, but are still able to collaborate on projects.
- Another’s company headquarters is in a different state so he is a teleworker 100% of the time, only visiting the main office two or three times a year. His company pays for office space at a telework center so he can still have the structure of an office environment. It has a mix of private offices and workstations and provides internet, meeting space, IT and administrative support and coffee, all for people who telework.
- A teleworker in Atlanta has been working from home since 2001 for five different companies. He once turned down a job that would have required him to work from the office and instead accepted an offer that has explicit permission to continue teleworking.
- One commuter currently teleworks two days per week and hopes to be teleworking 5 days a week by the end of the year. She says not driving through traffic helps reduce her stress, which improves her overall health.
- A teleworker reports 50% of his company to be teleworkers. He’s in the office a total of two weeks every year for meetings and it’s never more than three days in a row.
All teleworkers will tell you they enjoy it because there are generally less distractions, greater flexibility, more time for sleep, fuel savings, and that the best commute is no commute.
Anecdotal examples credited to Reddit.com/r/Atlanta
It's a fresh start and a new year, filled with high hopes for "Code Green" air quality days, sizable savings on commute costs and laughter from the passenger seat. Feel the optimism of 2012 with this latest "glass is half full" installment of Merging Lanes. It's gonna be a great year.
2012 Calendar Dates to Anticipate
While this year's calendar is shaping up to include a number of important dates to circle - Leap Year bonus day and Mayan prognostications notwithstanding - here are a few that should catch your attention:
- April 30 kicks off the start of Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia. With half of all smog-forming emissions coming from tailpipes, never has it been more important to be air aware.
- July 31 is the day we'll know whether Georgia voters approved a penny sales tax to fund transportation improvements all over the state. There's a lot riding on the outcome of this vote in terms of attracting new enterprise and breaking out of commuter gridlock.
- August 20 marks the beginning of the third-annual Georgia Telework Week, an event to celebrate the successes of employers and commuters who know the best commute is the one from the bedroom to the home office.
And slated for early-November is the 12th installment of The Clean Air Campaign's PACE Awards event, recognizing the best commute options programs in Georgia. Stay tuned for more details.
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In Good Company for Less Traffic, Cleaner Air
More than 1,600 Georgia employers and property managers are working with The Clean Air Campaign and its partners on outstanding programs that support greater use of commute options. Recently, 130 organizations received recognition as Platinum Partners for achieving a specific threshold of "clean commute trips" during 2011. To qualify as a Platinum Partner, at least 20 percent of all employee or tenant trips to an employer’s worksite must involve alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle trips and companies must actively educate employees about commute options. Congrats to these workplaces for raising the bar and proving that meaningful, lasting change in the way employees choose to travel is attainable.
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"Let's Get Physical, Physical ..."
Hitting the wall with your New Year's resolution to exercise more? When your conference call at work is placed on hold, there's only one thing better than listening to the Muzak version of Olivia Newton-John's "totally 80s" hit song: doing an actual workout routine at your desk. When you can't make it to the gym, The Washington Post offered these ideas to integrate into your daily routine, resulting from a study on employee health. No spandex required.
Click here for a printable PDF poster to tack up in your cubicle. And remember, if you don't feel comfortable with some of these moves in the presence of your co-workers, you can always fall back on a human-powered commute for better health.
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China unveiled what is believed to be the world's largest bus, clocking in at more than 82 feet in length and capable of transporting up to 300 commuters. Check it out!
Could you imagine this thing rolling down Atlanta's Downtown Connector? Could you imagine riding on it ... and logging your commute mode as "Giant Bus?"
The second-annual Georgia Telework Week brought more attention and support to the idea that sometimes, the best commute is the one employees don’t have to make.
Some highlights from 2011 Georgia Telework Week:
- The Clean Air Campaign received support from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who issued a proclamation declaring the week of September 12-16 an ideal to recognize that “The potential for growth of telework in Georgia is tremendous. Georgia businesses can save money, realize more productivity from their workforces and improve recruitment and retention.”
- Nearly 140 Georgia employers in both the private and public sectors gave their support during Georgia Telework Week.
- Dozens of employers attended the first-ever Georgia Telework Summit to learn from their peers about how to effectively grow and manage telework in the context of a workplace strategy.
- The results of the 336,000 commuters who telework at least once a week eliminated some 12 million miles of vehicle travel from Georgia roads and kept 6,000 tons of pollution out of the air we all breathe.
- These commuters also saved a combined $5.6 million on gas and car expenses by teleworking.
- More than 2,000 teleworkers logged their commute into the Commuter Rewards system, and 25 of them were selected at random to receive $25 gift cards as a thank you for teleworking
- Teleworkers submitted 25 nominations for Telemanager of the Quarter, an award given to an outstanding manager of remote workers who has made a big difference by championing telework at their company
- One organization noted that their telework program has helped leverage nearly $400,000 of savings on building maintenance and janitorial services.
Some comments from employer organizations that support telework:
“Because of telework programs at our mid-sized, 70 person company, we will eliminate up to 850 commute trips this year.”
“We’re using telework as a strategy to increase productivity and cost savings in these tough economic times. We now have an entire division that has transitioned into telework.”
-- Georgia Department of Community Health
“In addition to providing greater flexibility and efficiency for our employees, the systems and infrastructure that we have established in order to facilitate teleworking have also served as an effective "emergency plan" when staff was unable to get to the office (during last January's ice storm, for example).”
-- Park Pride
Some comments from commuters who telework:
“I am actually more productive when I telework and work longer hours. It allows me to balance home and work better.”
-- Julie D.
“Anything we can all do to keep our air cleaner and reduce our dependence on foreign oil is the right thing to do.”
-- Mark F.
Three key takeaways from 2011 Georgia Telework Week:
1. While there are already more than 600,000 teleworkers in metro Atlanta and more across Georgia, there is tremendous potential to further grow telework statewide. At least 245,000 more commuters would telework if their employers established a program.
2. Georgia is among the most wired areas in the nation, giving us a competitive advantage for telework over other major metropolitan areas. Due to our changing workforce and technology, more jobs today can be accomplished remotely.
3. What bears out time and again from organizations trying to get telework programs off the ground is that the winning formula begins with management support. Embracing telework as a business strategy becomes a primary objective in the early going: helping make the business case is one of the many ways The Clean Air Campaign’s telework consulting experts can help.
It’s hard to believe that less than 30 years ago telecommuting did not even exist, and it was only 20 years ago that the Internet made telecommuting a practical option. Supervisors did not study job descriptions to find out if they were compatible with telecommuting or how to manage employees without seeing them in the office every day.
We have come a long way to finally reach the point where a “place of work” is not just an office – it’s where you are able to do your work, and employers have the flexibility to define what that looks like for their organization.
At Gwinnett County Government, we have quite a few employees who are able to telework and take the option to do so. It is by no means a requirement, but it is great to see employees take the initiative to help us out with parking challenges we have at some of our facilities, reducing congestion on roads and side streets, and ultimately taking responsibility for supporting clean air initiatives in metro Atlanta.
Our employees are smart. They see the benefits of teleworking for us as an employer as well as what’s in it for them. Employees who telework recognize that they are more productive since their work day starts promptly at 8 a.m. when they are able to power up their computers at home instead of having to rush out the door and sit in traffic on the way to the office. They see that teleworking reduces their travel time and stress and they know that when they are happier, they work harder.
I look forward to seeing how technology will continue to transform the workplace and help us with our goals of reducing our impact on the environment. I can’t help but wonder where we will be 30 years from now.
Kenneth Poe, is human resources director for Gwinnett County. Gwinnett County Government was recently named a finalist for the PACE Government Champion Award given to county employers with outstanding commute options programs.
The second-annual Georgia Telework Week wraps up September 16. Show your support for telework here.
Employer representatives from the public and private sector convened in Atlanta for the inaugural 2011 Georgia Telework Summit, a special event held during Georgia Telework Week to bring telework into focus as an emerging workplace strategy.
Attendees heard a keynote address on telework benefits from Geri Thomas, market president for Bank of America's Georgia operations, as well as guest panelists who discussed issues ranging from technology to work environment trends. Here's a pictorial glimpse inside the 2011 Georgia Telework Summit:
Check out this new case study video about telework, and how The Clean Air Campaign helped one employer make the transition from an informal arrangement to a formal program that yielded improved productivity and got more employees to participate.
Vocalocity received the inaugural PACE Telework Catalyst Award at the 2011 PACE Awards. Learn more about their program here.
At a|i|m Marketing Solutions, we have been thrilled with what telework has brought to our company. Not only does it contribute to the organization’s objectives and employees’ well-being, it also does a small part in saving our precious environment. With technologies such as Skype, smart-phones, and company laptops, we find that our employees are more productive when working from home.
a|i|m Marketing Solutions implemented our “teleworking day” policy in 2007, and ever since, it has been our employees’ favorite day (besides Saturday and Sunday of course!) After 90 days of working with us, an employee is eligible to pick one day a week to work from home. We expect them to have a “business as usual” type day, constantly checking email and phones. Our laptops have enabled us to connect to our server from outside the office, so an employee should have no problems pulling files or information they might need.
We have also found that telework makes for much happier a|i|m employees. With the majority of our company having young families, they are able to work while still being able to be supportive wives, husbands, and parents. The combination of the exciting work we do here at a|i|m while also being able to see your family more often has proven to be one of my favorite things about our company. The ever important balance between work and family is understood at a|i|m and we are proud to offer our employees the option of teleworking!
Brooks Tolbert is account coordinator at a|i|m Marketing Solutions.
During Georgia Telework Week, watch this space for other guest blog posts from Clean Air Campaign employer partners and commuters who appreciate that sometimes the best commute is the one we don't have to make.