On Wednesday September 23, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is about to advance a policy to mandate that large employers have at least 60 percent of their employees telecommute on any given work day.
The goal of the policy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. The new policy for a 60% mandate was added to the PlanBayArea Blueprint this summer, based on community feedback during the Covid Shelter-In-Place period. This is not proposed as a Covid emergency measure, but as a permanent mandate.
The MTC will vote on Wednesday to include this policy in their environmental review of the region’s long range transportation plan, the PlanBayArea BluePrint.
As of yet, this is only a “strategy” not a policy. In order to turn this into a policy in the future, there would need to be many details worked put, plus legislative authorization. But it is being used in the PlanBayArea to fill the gap to meet the region’s greenhouse gas emission goals.
At the MTC’s policy advisory council and in discussions with Bay Area workers, concerns were raised by parents of young children, people with living environments without space and quiet for a home office, more junior employees who want to build relationships to succeed and advance at their jobs, and members of minority groups concerned that remote work will make it harder to overcome bias.
The telework mandate strategy came from public feedback over the summer on the PlanBayArea Blueprint. Some community members, seeing the huge drop in commute traffic that came from the pandemic shelter-in-place orders, thought that congestion could be permanently eased by mandating that workers stay at home after it is safe to work in offices.
Instead of an inflexible telework mandate that poses burden on many workers, a strategy a requiring lower car commute rate would also advance the greenhouse gas goals, and provide more flexibility for workers and employers – enabling people to take transit, or bike to work, or telecommute.
If you agree that greater flexibility allowing employees to work from home is a good idea but a 60% telework mandate goes way too far, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on Tuesday. Please address your message to MTC Commissioners, reference agenda #8a, and say a sentence or two in your own words, and if relevant with a 1-2 sentence personal story.
For details, see the PlanBayArea item in the screenshot below. You can find it in the meeting materials by downloading the PlanBayArea item and searching for Strategy EN7.