LETTER: Teleworking: Don't fear the new normal

Matt Boyer
Commuter Services of PA
This April 3, 2020 photo shows realtor Michelle Bushée posing at her desk while working from her home in Pittsburgh, Pa. Bushee has always been an avid planner. Her weeks used to be very busy but now the entire month of April is empty. (Nick Bushée via AP)

As the remaining counties of Pennsylvania enter the green phase of this pandemic, many employers look forward to their workforce returning to 100%. While this goal is important, I question why employers feel the need to bring employees back into the physical workplace after weeks of heightened productivity from home. Recent weeks provided a unique “test case” for the use of Transportation Demand Management options such as teleworking. Although shifting to teleworking was mandated rather than chosen by many employers, employees maintained high levels of productivity, all while balancing life and work from home.

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Employers contend the need to monitor productivity and time management during this time but let’s not ignore the trust we have in employees and their ability to work from a home desk rather than an office cubicle. Not to mention the decreased overhead costs to employers; the increased disposable income to employees; the productivity benefits of a positive work-life balance; higher retention and recruitment rates and the environmental and emissions benefits of removing commuting vehicles from the roads.

As we embark to a new norm, I am asking employers to expand their view of the typical work environment. Don’t be fearful of remote working, welcome the flexibility telework provides your workforce, support the changing culture and take the first step, today, to create or evaluate your telework policy.

Let’s make teleworking permanent for the appropriate sectors of our workforce and move into the next period of this recovery with a retooled approach and positive attitude.

— Matt Boyer of executive director of Commuter Services of Pennsylvania.