James Davenport Transportion (Past, Present and Future)


There is no Going Back to the “Old Normal”

There is no Going Back to the “Old Normal”

You may have heard or even said “we are living in some strange times.” Many of us are waiting for everything to go “back to normal”. I don’t believe there is a “going back to the way things were.” History has shown us that during major catastrophic events such as pandemics, wars, and economic challenges, life never returns to the way it was.  And one change I see is that telework will become more of a normal business operation.

Credit: ranchic.com

Before the Covid-19 Pandemic, we as Transportation Demand Management Outreach Coordinators were promoting ridesharing (Carpools, Vanpools, Buses, etc.) over driving to help reduce congestion on our clogged roads and highways. We had some successes as people realized they could save time and money.

Then Coronavirus hit and the message became quite different. With the safe distancing precautions in place, we were not promoting ridesharing anymore. In fact, since the stay at home orders went into effect, very few people were able to go to their office anyway. I can’t say first-hand since I am working remotely 5 days/week right now, but traffic volumes on many of the nation’s highways have dropped considerably. Goes to show you how effective telework can be in reducing traffic congestion.

But, even in the DC area where a good number of workers already worked remotely before Covid-19 (heavily influenced by the federal work force), many companies refused to allow telework for various reasons, including security. But companies, that were once resistant to telework,  were forced to put infrastructure in place to allow their employees to telework and eventually develop a company-based telework policy. Even businesses/entities you would not think would ever implement telework (such as K-12 schools, medical professionals, and security firms) now see telework as a viable option. I am not saying “no one will ever work in their office again.” But I predict, the number of workers who telework will be higher that pre-pandemic levels. Companies that were resistant before, have bought in. Now, the Genie is out of the bottle.

Credit: Robin Mack - Telework!Va

We all know the benefits of telework such as continuation of operations and improvement of retention and recruitment. And it is hard to argue against those. However, my favorite argument for the future of telework is taken from a slide of a colleague’s presentation on telework which shows the improvement of Air Quality in Los Angeles. You know what they say, “A pictures Paints a Thousand Words.”

Of course, I can only speculate. If anyone has a crystal ball, let me know. I would like to see what the future holds for us. But until that happens, we will keep doing the best we can in the current situation. And if telework becomes more the normal than the exception in our upcoming future, I think that is a good thing.


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