Getting to Work During a Pandemic

As you think about reopening, consider your employees’ transportation concerns and how to make their commutes as safe as possible.

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Public Transit
Tips and ideas to help your staff get to work safely

As businesses begin to reopen in states across the country — and others are speculating about what their reopening processes might look like — a new pandemic-related issue has arised. How will people get to work safely as we venture into the early stages of a new “normal”?

Not everyone has a car or the ability to bike to work. Mass transit can be terrifying to some because you are enclosed in a small space. How should small businesses handle transportation concerns as the country returns to work in the coming months? Luckily, companies big and small are interested in helping their employees get to work in an efficient and sustainable way. There are ideas and practices to build on and draw from.

Here are transportation concerns to consider as you think about reopening. We have some tips and ideas that you can implement in order to make commuting as safe as possible.

Look into possible disaster relief for transit alternatives

As a recent JLL survey found, 29% of respondents who took public transportation prior to the pandemic are looking for alternate forms of transportation to and from work in the future. Naturally, sharing cramped spaces with strangers is low on most people’s lists of acceptable preventative measures these days. However, there are ways you can help your employees with this quagmire.

As a recent JLL survey found, 29% of respondents who took public transportation prior to the pandemic are looking for alternate forms of transportation to and from work in the future.

While this option will certainly be more feasible for some small businesses — chiefly those with a centralized workforce — than others, providing alternative commuting options to your employees is something you can look into. Whether that takes the form of parking subsidies to make solo commuting more affordable (although not environmentally friendly) or paying for a shuttle service for employees, it’s possible that disaster relief funds could be used to mitigate some of these costs for employers impacted by the pandemic, reports SHRM.

Launch a Transportation Spending Account program

Using Flexible Spending Account contributions to offset transportation costs for employees has been a growing benefit trend well before the pandemic and might be a timely solution after it. Transportation Spending Accounts (TSAs) allow employees to put pre-tax funds towards commuting expenses in the form of parking or transportation. These programs are usually administered by deposits on a debit card or as reimbursable expenses. While this won’t help a ton, it is something that can at least take the edge off in a precarious time. It’s also a low-cost option for cash-strapped small businesses.

Share safety precautions for public transit

One thing every small business can do is compile safety information for their employees using public transit.

One thing every small business can do is compile safety information for their employees using public transit. Allowing employees who use public transportation to alter their commute times is also something you can do.

The more individualized safety suggestions are to your particular city or town, the better. Here are a few general precautions that should apply across the board:

  • Maintain a safe social distance if possible. Naturally, when busses or subways don’t have room there’s not much you can do. But if there is space, stay as distant from other passengers as you can.
  • Change your commute time. If possible, shift your commute to non-peak hours in order to reduce the congestion you encounter during your commute. Also, consider giving yourself some extra commute time in case you need to wait for a less busy bus or train to arrive.
  • Sanitize and wash your hands often. It’s important to sanitize your hands before and after your trip.
  • Wear a mask. Cloth coverings can help slow the spread.

Consider temporary office spaces

Naturally, this isn’t the most cost-effective option. But if you’re itching to get your teams back together in real life, renting temporary office spaces near where your employees live is an option. Temporary space can reduce or eliminate your employees’ needs to commute by car. It can reduce their commute to a walkable or bikeable venture. Adding additional space, at least for the time being, can be the key to getting your employees back into the office in a way that lets them maintain a safe social distance from their coworkers as well.

Extend work-from-home practices

That same JLL survey also looked at how respondents feel about working remotely now that working from home has become a widespread practice during the pandemic. The survey found that 64% of respondents who didn’t work from home before the pandemic want to incorporate the practice into their future work life. Additionally, the majority of respondents answered that they’d like to work from home for 2 to 3 days per week once normal work activity resumes.

Just because states are opening back up doesn’t mean that your offices need to. Especially if working from home has been working for your employees, maybe there’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken? Perhaps the silver lining of all of this is the realization that you don’t need to pay for office space in the same way that you used to in the past.

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