Friday, March 11, 2011

Societal Changes: Transportation for the Future and the Culture of the Government Workplace

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
AASHTO posts its illuminating collection of comments about what members of the public are hoping to see in our nation's future transportation system. The outreach effort has attracted over 200 comments and more than 24 youtube videos. AASHTO is posting both a summary and the entirety of the comments. To view the ongoing public commentary, visit

View AASHTO's facebook page, AASHTO Speaks, for a very active and interactive informational resource.

Window into the (Home) Workplace

Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT)
ACT links to information about the Status of Telework in the Federal Government, a report to Congress about teleworking patterns for 2009. The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announces that "increasing the strategic use of telework is a high priority for President Obama and OPM," and candidly acknowledges that federal agencies have a long way to go in utilizing telework.

So why am I reading and writing about a report that discusses avoidance of travel? Transportation solutions to national challenges, in this case congestion, emissions, and even crowding on public transit, can include, as a part of the pie of solutions, less travel - assuming that those who telework do not use single occupancy vehicles for a bunch of additional trips on days worked at home. Also, the federal government is a major employment presence; its policies are the standard in DC and are considered instructive for other large institutions. In a town where snow prevents us from moving around and schools are closed for days, telework keeps the government working in emergencies.

In this day of instant communications, do we really all need to be at the office everyday? We have anecdotes and opinions, but the report has statistics. In the federal workforce, already 10 percent telework regularly, 12 percent occasionally and 23 percent are not permitted to telework though their jobs are amenable to such an arrangement. (Please note that due to data collection methods, these numbers are a snapshot, but are not exact.) Only 36 percent report a need to be physically present at the workplace to do their work. Obviously, a cafeteria worker or law enforcement officer cannot work from home.

Interestingly, in the lead are independent agencies, both large and small. Though the numbers of teleworkers tended to be older and have more years of experience, the percentages are fairly even across age groups and with minor differences for men and women. Maybe I just enjoy reading reports, but I found the statistics for workplace satisfaction interesting. The one cultural shift that OPM identified as needed to encourage teleworking is to increase the numbers of managers and supervisors who telework.

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