What if Transportation Disappears?

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Commuting to work today requires time, energy, and money. It stretches our country’s natural resources and makes people grumble.

Workplaces today often provide hundreds of expensive parking spaces to accommodate a steady stream of commuters, while metro-area buses and trains are continually packed with more people than they were intended to hold. And while common build-outs include bicycle racks, associated storage, and shower facilities, a wholesale revolution of private sector transportation has been, until recently, virtually unfathomable.

But what if all of that could change?

In the last several decades, people around the world have dreamed of more efficient cars. Today’s hottest technology, the Google Car, notable for its self-driving abilities, would be great for commuters. Not only does the car ride a hot-trend wave, but it’s eco-friendly and will likely prove cheaper to maintain in the long run.

The reality of the Google Car presents a wide range of potential innovations; perhaps companies provided them as a benefit like they do healthcare, or offered them to employees for personal or business travel.

Bicycles are another example of a private-sector transportation resource that must be improved upon. In regard to global warming, President Obama is on record as having once said, “Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.” Bikes drastically reduce our carbon footprint and widespread use could likely be the key to improving the environment. Moreover, the energy required to power this new wave of bicycles would surely do our collective bodies good; with a national obesity rate hovering around 40 percent, we could all do with a little extra exercise.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, together with his administration, recently released formal guidelines on how to design in order to amplify user activity. Called The Active Design Guidelines, the guide emphasizes more exercise at home, around town, and especially at work.

For the average office worker, achieving this ideal means more perspiration getting to and from work, which will lead to workspace designers dedicating more square footage for showers, lockers, and changing rooms. This will also push commercial investors to spend their time finding the best value in earth-friendly soaps, shampoos, and body washes, so that their end-user — the employee — isn’t forced to cart around with a full toiletry bag.

A successful implementation of Active Design Guidelines exists in DC’s own Holocaust Museum. Visitors access all three lower levels of exhibits by walking flights of stairs; in addition, there is a flood of natural light. The museum not only feels comfortable, but its design promotes mobility.

In the end, our current forms of transportation – be they public or private – are not sustainable. Too many workers are wasting money and energy – not to mention growing larger – as they sit in gridlocked traffic or utilize the outdated Metro. We need to transform this man-made disaster of wastefulness by designing workspaces designed to promote and support the walker, cyclist and, someday, perhaps even the Google Car owner.

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  1. Is it appropriate to point to the following article I copied from another industry publication on this topic?

    A routine morning commute southbound on Georgia Route 400 into downtown Atlanta can easily take a working professional well over an hour. With many people leaving the city at the same time at the end of the workday, the return trip can be even longer.

    That is a minimum of two hours of non-value-added time per day or 450 hours per year wasted. The cost to the employee is more than the wear and tear of the commute, it includes time away from family and the inability to be mobile, plus expenses that simply would not exist without the need to “go to the office.” The costs to employers may be even greater. Having tardy employees who finish the day with one eye on the clock, to assure themselves an exit timed to minimize the effects of gridlock, leads to lowered productivity and an uninspired work performance. In today’s economy, employers must ensure maximum productivity from every worker. And workers today value their work environment more than ever.

    The advent of superior technology and the ability to work remotely has opened up opportunities for companies to not only outsource work to third parties, but to outsource their own employees. A few years ago employers were concerned about the productivity of distracted employees working from remote sites. But enhanced technology, designated workspace furniture and individual performance measures have shown employees are more productive and much happier in remote work environments.

    Large corporations, especially those in industries like financial services, such as Bank of America, American Express, Progressive Insurance and many others with an easily monitored service factor, have already embraced the concept. Companies in a wide array of other industries are destined to expand this concept as they realize they can improve employee performance and even outsource to lower cost markets without going offshore. They too can decentralize work centers by forming satellite workstations without the need for massive corporate overheads.

    Today, over 20 million Americans work from a remote site fulltime and nearly twice that many work remotely on a part time basis. The number is growing by double digits annually and recent studies predict that this number will increase by 1.5 million workers per year for the next ten years. Corporations are looking for ways to manage this movement.

    So far only one furniture supplier BBF, has recognized that for these professionals, durable, quality furniture solutions for their remote officea are essential to staying organized, being productive and meeting deadlines and developed a program to help. BBF has embraced this notion and has declared manufacturing such furniture solutions a priority in its business, by developing a single source \”“one-stop-shop–  for remote-officing requirements. They plan the spaces, order the products, ship them to the office location especially including home offices, and INSTALL the products. No other furniture manufacturer offers this all-encompassing service for American corporations.


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