Will coronavirus spur a traffic-solving remote-work revolution? Don’t count on it

By Nico Savage : mercurynews – excerpt

Emergency shelter-in-place orders cleared rush-hour freeways. Will that last?

One can only hope. But, here are some thoughts on the subject.

For a region used to organizing daily life around the rhythms of rush hour, last week was downright eerie.

There was no sea of brake lights at the Bay Bridge toll plaza each morning. No caravan of super-commuters inching west on Interstate 580 before dawn. No sardine-can cramming onto BART trains. No hellacious crawl down Highway 101 at 5 p.m.

As the Bay Area races to contain a deadly pandemic that has upended life as we know it, our region is also being thrust into a mass experiment in remote work. Albeit unintended, we’re seeing firsthand how having large numbers of people do their jobs at home instead of in offices could be a solution to the grinding traffic that captured our attention in the days before COVID-19.

Businesses that may have been hesitant to allow employees to work remotely now have no choice. Workers curious about ditching their commute and working full-time from home are doing just that. Whether those habits stick could have big implications for the traffic congestion that fuels climate change while sapping Bay Area residents’ time and money…

“There could be some managers who say, ‘We actually did pretty well,’” Choudhury added, “or stare at the empty offices and say, ‘Why do we need these offices?’”…

But Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino predicted the temporary change could catch on with some companies and workers, spurring “permanent shifts that will lead to positive impacts on traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

Telework has become increasingly popular as new technology allows companies to create a workplace anywhere, whether with instant messages on Slack or video conferences using Zoom or GoToMeeting… (more)

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