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Commute Equity and your Return-to-the-Office Plan

Working on your return-to-the-office plan? You’ll need to take into consideration both in-office operations and commuting safety. It’s unlikely that two employees have the same needs in their commute.

Feature image for commute equity in return-to-the-office commute plans

Creating an inclusive and equitable commute management plan for your company’s return to the office is a must. Some employees may decide to work from home more permanently, and others may need to choose a different commuting mode. However individual employees decide to commute, you need to ensure you’re assisting them.

What is Commute Equity?

Commute equity is offering equal and fair benefits and assistance to employees who have different commutes. So if one employee drives and parks in a $200 per month parking spot (that you pay for), then employees who bike deserve to receive a similar benefit value.

Why It’s Important

For the average worker, commuting is not a positive experience. Employees leave jobs when commuting is bad – nearly 25 percent, in fact. Even worse, 60 percent of employees felt their employers were doing nothing to help.

Creating a level playing field for your employees ensures they will have the resources and support to either adopt or resume sustainable ways of commuting.

For Non-car owners

For people who choose to live without a car or choose to not commute by car should see benefits at parity with those who do drive to work.

For drivers

What if your employees do own cars, but you can’t accommodate more drive-alone commuters? Well you could help them find another way to commute, like we showed you above. Or you could pay them not to drive.

Including a parking cash-out program in your return-to-the-office plan gives your employees incentive not to drive, while saving you money. 

First, let’s cover what parking cash-out is. Parking cash-out is simply offering your employees who drive a monetary incentive not to do so.

What you could do is add 75 percent of the cost of a spot to an employee’s paycheck per month. So if you’re paying $200 per month for one spot, you can offer an employee $150 in cash per month. If you want to go a step further, you can offer a transit or bikeshare subsidy to give a little help in the change.

There will still be people who have to drive to work, of course. But employees who drive just because they have a guaranteed, free spot may change their minds.

Work from home

Returning to the physical office will be a reality for some of your employees, but not for others. Those employees who continue to work from home more permanently deserve commuter, or non-commuter, benefits as well – even if it’s only a few days per week. The goal of offering benefits for alternative commuting methods is to lower drive-alone commute rates. Not driving to work does just that, and needs to be rewarded equally.

Work-from-home benefits are another form of commuter benefits. We’re not going to tell you what you need to offer them, because there are so many routes to take (yes, pun intended). But if you offer free parking for employees who drive, or subsidize metro passes for you employees, you should offer equal benefits for employees who stay home. These benefits can come in the form of:

• A home office stipend

• Noise-cancelling headphones

• A productivity stipend

• A second home monitor

You don’t have to help your employees build a state-of-the-art home office, but these employees are making a decision that’s best for them (and your company).

Making benefits known

The next, and one the most important steps in your return-to-the-office plan, is effectively marketing the benefits you’ll be offering. Creating a commute management plan is best maximized when your employees are aware and taking advantage of it. You need to make the effort to inform, help, and guide your employees in the right direction to ensure they’re using the best benefits for them.

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