Bay Area Air Quality Management call on employers to rethink business models, citing benefits to working remotely

Bay Area

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President and Vice Chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board Cindy Chavez at Monday’s press conference at San Jose Water Company located in Downtown San Jose, Ca.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — On Monday, Bay Area employers signed the “Cut the Commute” pledge in an effort to continue to improve air quality throughout the Bay Area by encouraging employers to provide remote work options.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District held a press conference Monday at the San Jose Water Company office along with other Bay Area leaders and employers to call on Bay Area businesses to include remote work options for employees as they prepare to re-open this week under strict guidelines.

“Our air quality can stay brilliant as it is now over time if we can be more thoughtful about when we need to come to work and when we can commute from home by remote work,” said Rod Sinks, Chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board.

“We know somewhere between two two thirds of our emissions from commuting have been cut … this is a major step we can all think about and reflect on as we’re in this special time where we really are looking for an opportunity to define a new world and a new new normal that gives us an opportunity to enjoy cleaner air and less frustration in commuting.”

Cutting commute benefits everyone

According to the Bay Area Air District since the Bay Area was ordered to shelter-in-place on Mar. 16, the recent clean air in the area is partially due to the accompanying reduction in vehicle traffic on roads.

The “Cut the Commute” pledge calls on Bay Area employers to extend remote work options by at least 25 percent for employees whose work allows the flexibility to do so.

Courtesy: Bay Area Air Quality Management District

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors president and vice chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board Cindy Chavez led Monday’s press conference urging employers to begin to adapt operations that allows for more remote options for employees to help reduce the stress caused by commuting citing the added benefits from working remotely.

“Even after the pandemic of coronavirus, it doesn’t have to be business as usual especially in terms of how we work and how often we get in our cars,” said Chavez.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that working from home hasn’t been as difficult as we thought, its been extremely productive and cost and time efficient for many.”

Taking the pledge

Flipboard, a Palo Alto-based social news app and San Jose Water Company were among the first few Bay Area employers to take the “Cut the Commute” pledge to maintain air quality progress even after shelter-in-place orders are lifted.

“The reality of the pandemic has shown us all that change is possible and can be very successful, today there are tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts even FaceTime where our teams can get together to connect,” said Marci McCue, Vice President of Content and Communications for Flipboard.

“The pandemic has also reminded us that these buildings don’t make San Jose Water Company, it’s the people of the San Jose Water Compnay that make our company and that’s is why we support President Chavez’ mission for cutting the commute,” said Eric Thornburg, President and Cheif Executive Officer of the San Jose Water Company.

Another company joining the pledge is Tech CU, a Silicon Valley-based credit union that due the coronavirus pandemic now operates 90 percent remotely.

The pandemic forced Tech CU to adapt their operations which in many ways has been able to solve some of the issues the credit union was running into prior to the pandemic.

“Six months ago we had really high turnover because we had employees who could not afford to live in the Bay Area because of housing and they were commuting from the furthest away was Sonora,” said Jeannine Jacobsen, Chief Operating Officer at Tech CU.

“This actually proves that we can do it as a credit union for our members and continue with the digital transformation that were going on will enable us to serve everyone so much better.”

To learn more about the “Cut the Commute” pledge click here.

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