When flexibility becomes the norm instead of the exception, the phrase “rush hour”—which, frankly, is neither a rush nor only an hour—could leave common parlance. Flex has an outsized impact on the daily commute, and some metropolitan areas are already experimenting with workplace flexibility to reduce traffic congestion.
Rush hour, a phrase Merriam-Webster says was first used on the record in 1878, is as much a product of the Industrial Revolution as the 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday work schedule, and it’s just as outdated. With an increasingly diverse workforce, it doesn’t make sense for all workers to be forced into the same schedule, and similarly, it doesn’t make sense for all workers to be forced to report to a certain location each day.
In fact, both time-based and location-based modifications to the workday—both of which are in high demand in the workforce—could diversify the commute and ease congestion on roadways and mass transit. Remote work is an obvious solution: Letting workers work from home means those workers don’t have to commute. But Remote isn’t the only flexibility solution for congestion; nor should it be, especially because some workers enjoy traveling to work. And Remote is not the only flexibility type that can save the day. Even the location variety of DeskPlus and the schedule variety of TimeShift would have sizable effects on the daily commute, as various local governments seem to be realizing.
As we’ve previously discussed here, Miami-Dade County, the 7th-most populous county in the United States, is considering both remote work and location variety as solutions to its congestion problems. "Rather than having everybody come downtown, have them go to centers where they can basically work through technology and still accomplish what they need to do and have traffic patterns begin to change, so you don't have everybody on the same roads at the same time trying to get to the same place," County Commissioner Dennis Moss said in a meeting about the idea in July.
Meanwhile, officials in Cape Town swung into action in 2017 after the South African city became the 48th most-congested city and the morning rush timeframe doubled in length, as Hippo reports. The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee approved a Travel Demand Management Strategy, which urged private companies to introduce flexibility policies similar to Remote, DeskPlus, and TimeShift. The city council also announced plans to shuffle up the work schedule for more than 25,000 city employees, per IOL.
And employers in Kuala Lumpur have found that flexible working arrangements have improved Malaysian workers’ involvement and productivity, The Star Online reports. Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, executive director of the Malaysian Employers’ Federation, said in 2016 that flex arrangements are “really needed now because an employee in a large city wastes between two to three hours a day commuting to and from work because of traffic congestion.”
And for the record, less commuting means fewer carbon emissions—so easing the commute through flexibility could literally be a world-saving game plan.