“The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional government agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, voted Wednesday to move forward with a proposal to require people at large, office-based companies to work from home three days a week as a way to slash greenhouse gas emissions from car commutes,” reports NBC News:
It’s a radical suggestion that likely would have been a non-starter before Covid-19 shuttered many offices in March, but now that corporate employees have gotten a taste of not commuting, transportation planners think the idea has wider appeal. “There is an opportunity to do things that could not have been done in the past,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a member of the transportation commission who supports the proposal. She said she felt “very strongly” that a telecommuting mandate ought to be a part of the region’s future…
Some of the nation’s largest companies are headquartered in the Bay Area, including not only tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel and Netflix, but Chevron, Levi Strauss and Wells Fargo… The idea of a mandate was a surprise to residents, many of whom first learned of the idea this week from social media and then flooded an online meeting of the transportation agency Wednesday to try, unsuccessfully, to talk commissioners out of the idea. “We do not want to continue this as a lifestyle,” Steven Buss, a Google software engineer who lives in San Francisco, told the commission. “We are all sacrificing now to reduce the spread of the virus, but no one is enjoying working from home,” he said. “It’s probably fine if you own a big house out in the suburbs and you’re nearing retirement, but for young workers like me who live in crowded conditions, working from home is terrible.”
Many callers pointed out that the situation exacerbates inequality because only some types of work can be done from home. Others worried about the ripple effects on lunch spots, transit agencies and other businesses and organizations that rely on revenue from office workers. Still other residents said that if car emissions are the problem, the commission should focus on cars, not all commutes… Dustin Moskovitz, a cofounder of Facebook who usually keeps a low public profile, mocked the idea as an indictment of the Bay Area’s general failure to plan for growth. “We tried nothing, and we’re all out of ideas,” Moskovitz, now CEO of software company Asana, tweeted Tuesday.
The mandate would apply to “large, office-based employers” and require them to have at least 60 percent of their employees telecommute on any given workday. They could meet the requirement through flexible schedules, compressed work weeks or other alternatives.
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