As businesses reopen, employees who are unable to work remotely on a full-time basis are returning to the workplace. For those who rely on public transportation for their daily commutes, this can be a concern amid the COVID-19 virus. To help alleviate these concerns, employers can encourage alternative modes of transportation, such as walking, cycling, or carpooling, and also implement updated schedule policies and transit-fare-reimbursement plans.
During the pandemic, coming within close proximity to other people and touching shared surfaces have become major concerns. And as companies begin to resume business operations, these worries are increased for returning employees who commute on public transportation.
If full-time remote work is not an option for certain employees, there are other methods for employers to help alleviate those workers’ fears of taking public transportation during the COVID-19 outbreak. HR managers can implement plans for encouraging alternative modes of transportation and for providing support to those who rely on public bus or train systems.
Alternative Modes of Transportation
Employees who live close to their workplace can either walk or cycle. Employers can encourage these healthy alternatives by implementing fun competitions, such as step or distance challenges, and rewarding the person who has walked the most steps or biked the furthest distance at the end of each week or month. Furthermore, businesses could install more bike racks, or add a secured bike storage space, so workers feel more confident about cycling to work.
For those who live further from the workplace, carpooling may be a more feasible alternative. Employees should be encouraged to carpool with those who work the same shifts and schedules, to limit the number of people they come into contact with. Physical distancing may be difficult, but individuals are exposed to fewer people in a car than on public transportation, and they can further reduce their risk by wearing a mask.
Other Workplace Solutions
Managers must understand that some employees have no choice but to take public transportation. In these instances, and if feasible, employers could implement a plan to reimburse either all or a portion of employees’ public transit fares for a short period of time. This financial assistance would help relieve workers’ stress during the pandemic.
Another solution is to introduce a more flexible scheduling system or a hybrid model of work. Flexible schedules allow staff to start or end work earlier or later than usual, which helps employees avoid rush hour, when public busses and trains are generally busier. A hybrid schedule, on the other hand, requires employees to come to the workplace only on specific days and work from home on other days. This option helps reduce the number of times that workers are required to use public transit to commute to and from work.
Advantages for Employees
Studies have shown that a physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) is needed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. When individuals are better able to distance themselves from others and limit their contact with large numbers of people while commuting, they reduce their risk of contracting the virus. In fact, Business Insider reports that “solitary modes of transportation such as driving a vehicle, walking, and bike-riding are three of the safest ways to travel during the coronavirus pandemic.”
There are also physical and mental health benefits to alternative modes of transportation. The physical activity associated with walking or cycling, for instance, fosters healthier lifestyles and mental well-being.
As well, alternative modes of commutes or work schedules can reduce the anxiety that members of the workforce may feel when taking public busses or trains during the pandemic, which in turn promotes improved mental well-being. Flexible and hybrid schedules also help employees deal with other pandemic-related stresses, such as childcare.
In addition, employees can benefit from strengthened bonds with coworkers as a result of carpooling.
TPD Can Help
If your company is resuming business operations and you require assistance developing an effective return-to-work plan, including updating policies relating to transportation or scheduling, get in touch with TPD.
You can reach us here, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 1.844.873.4745, and our qualified experts would be more than happy to help. For additional HR resources, visit our COVID-19 HR Support Centre.