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February 15, 2021

It’s a New Year! Consider New Commute Possibilities

by Korrea Johnston

This new year brings a welcomed spirit of new beginnings and the perfect opportunity to rethink your commute. Will you be returning to the office full-time or a few days a week? Have you considered resuming your pre-pandemic commute? Are you exploring other travel options for getting to work? You should ask yourself these questions, among others, when considering the commute that best meets your needs.

goDCgo encourages you to commute smarter, not harder in 2021. Whether that means working from home, adopting an alternative work schedule, biking to the office, or signing up for transportation benefits through your employer, there are many ways to save time, money, and stress by using DC’s sustainable travel options.

 

Telework Tips

Telework, often referred to as working remotely, is a work arrangement that allows you to perform work from home or at an approved alternate worksite. An increasingly popular option since the coronavirus (COVID-19), telework helps reduce commute stress and improve productivity. Here are a few tips to improve your telework experience:

  • Create a comfortable workspace
    • Find a dedicated, well-lit space in your household where you can set up shop with an ergonomically-friendly chair, desk or table, and laptop and/or monitor.
    • Try to go hands-free with phone calls by using the speaker setting or headphones.
  • Take breaks
    • Create a new routine to break up your day to separate work time versus personal time. Try stepping away from your desk to eat so that you can differentiate lunch time from your office hours.
    • Move around throughout the day to improve your overall health and stay active while working. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can have adverse health effects.
  • Telework part-time
    • Talk to your employer about teleworking part-time, perhaps 1-2 days a week. This will allow you to transition back to the office while working from home a few days a week to limit your exposure.

Alternative Work Schedules

Alternative work schedules allow you to shift work hours to avoid peak time travel, accommodate personal appointments, complete your work in fewer days, and more. Flextime, compressed work weeks, and staggered work hours are all types of alternative work schedules, each representing a different kind of adjustment to the traditional nine-to-five, eight-hours-a-day schedule.

  • Choose your schedule type
    • Flexible scheduling allows you to arrive or leave work at different times, giving more flexibility for appointments and responsibilities outside of the workplace.
    • Compressed scheduling allows you to complete your work hours over fewer days. Two schedule types are common:
      • Four/Forty (4/40) Schedule: You can work four ten-hour days and take the fifth day off.
      • Nine/Eighty (9/80) Schedule: You can work 80 hours in nine business days and take the tenth day off.
    • Staggered scheduling shifts your work hours from the normal starting time by 15 minutes or up to two hours to help you avoid rush-hour traffic congestion and transit overcrowding. Staggered schedules are determined on a departmental or individual basis:
      • Departmental: Departments are assigned different starting times.
      • Individual: Employees are assigned staggered starting times, which may vary within departments or work units.

Alternative Commute Options

If you carpool, vanpool, use public transit, bike, or walk to work two or more days a week, then you could qualify for a FREE and reliable ride home in the case of an unexpected event. Register for the Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program, so you’re sure to have a ride home in case of emergency or unscheduled overtime when forced to stay late.

  • Sign-up for commuter benefits
    • If you work in a DC-based office with 20 or more employees (full-time or part-time), your employer is required to comply with the DC Commuter Benefits Law by offering commuter benefits. Commuter benefits allow you to save up to 40% per month in expenses toward public transit or vanpools.
      • Employers can offer a range of pre-tax or subsidized transit benefits, and other related perks such as secure bike parking and assistance finding a carpool.
      • The pre-tax deduction for public transportation or vanpool has NOT increased in 2021, so you can set aside up to $270 per month. Be sure to let your employer know if you’d like to select a new commuter benefit election or update your existing option.
  • Take public transit
    • There is very little evidence showing that taking public transit poses a high risk of spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19). Transit agencies are following proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols and require everyone to wear face masks or coverings to help keep riders safe. In fact, public transportation has become even more crucial since the pandemic in order to accommodate travel for essential workers.
    • In the District, you have the option of using the Metrorail, Metrobus, DC Circulator, or DC Streetcar. Keep in mind that fares have been reinstated on Metrobus and DC Circulator, but DC Streetcar is always free.
  • Use active transportation
    • Opting for an active transportation mode like biking or walking allows you to have more space for safe social distancing, along with healthy exercise and a boosted mood. The District makes it easy to get around with 150 miles of recreational paths that are accessible by bike or foot.
    • Get a Capital Bikeshare membership.
      • With over 6,000 bikes equipped with lights, 600 stations systemwide, and 24-hour accessibility, Capital Bikeshare is a reliable and affordable riding option.
      • If you qualify for Capital Bikeshare for All, you could get an annual membership for just $5 a year.
  • Rent dockless vehicles
    • Dockless vehicles are reliable, easily-accessible, and available 24/7, and hence, make a great travel option for late-night workers.
    • You can rent dockless bikes, scooters, and mopeds to get all the way home or to connect with another transportation option like the bus or Metrorail.
    • The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) currently permits eight dockless bike and scooter companies to operate in the city: Bird, Helbiz, Jump, Lime, Lyft, Razor, Skip, and Spin.
    • Many companies have added new safety practices, including face coverings/masks and social distancing protocols, and offer FREE or discounted access for first responders; healthcare, pharmacy, public transit, restaurant delivery, and retail workers; and income-eligible residents.
  • Use shared vehicles
    • Carpooling is the simplest and most common way to share a ride on a continual, scheduled basis. And, it benefits the environment by reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions with fewer cars on the road. You can access FREE carpool matching through Commuter Connections.
    • You can choose a monthly or annual Zipcar membership for as low as $7 per month or $70 per year; or choose a dedicated rental for weekday commutes. Zipcar has partnered with Bozzuto, the DC Housing Authority, and a long list of other local property management companies to provide special offers to DC residents. Review the property list to see if you can take advantage of this special offer.
    • Free2Move’s self-service carshares are distributed in the following DC neighborhoods: Georgetown, Capitol Hill, Downtown, Navy Yard, and Dupont Circle. Download the Free2Move mobile app to pick-up a car and return it within one of the above home areas.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you commute with care. Visit goDCgo’s website for more transportation information and resources to help you explore a new commute — like getting started with a FREE RIDE!



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