Flexible Workplace Practices Free up More than Just Freeways

MTI researchers investigate why flexible workplace practices are not increasing despite proven congestion relief, economic development, and access to affordable housing in L.A.
November 6, 2019
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San José, CA

Ready, set, sit in traffic. Researchers from the California State University Transportation Consortium (CSUTC), led by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), explore the issue of why more South Bay L.A. organizations aren’t applying flexible workplace practices (FWP) despite reducing congestion and pollution while also increasing housing affordability options. Drs. Fynnwin Prager, Mohja Rhoads, and Jose Martinez identify the obstacles to the expansion of FWPs in “The ‘Go-Virtual Initiative’: Using Flexible Workplace Practices to Reduce Traffic Congestion, Increase Economic Development, and Provide More Access to Affordable Housing choices in the South Bay Region of Los Angeles County.

Despite the proven and well-known benefits of FWPs, there is a lack of implementation due to occupational and industry constraints, manager resistance, and employee concerns over work-life balance. The authors explored these issues through survey administration and focus group discussions to understand more fully the obstacles to implementation. Additionally, they considered potential government incentives where organizations participating in a FWP program could receive subsidies.

Their findings include:

  • Commute times and the proportion of residents driving alone to work have increased with the economy’s growth;
  • Working from home appears to be limited to certain work field or careers with higher education level occupations;
  • Survey participants perceived FWPs’ greatest obstacle to be managerial and executive resistance along with occupational constraints – managers feared losing oversight and employees lost valuable face time with their superiors, jeopardizing potential growth in the organization.

Survey participants also perceived government subsidies and incentives as a good balance of costs and impacts, seeing government intervention as a way to encourage the use of private co-working spaces.

“Government organizations can lead by example by expanding FWPs to administrative staff in public schools, colleges, and other public agencies, demonstrating FWPs effectiveness while also seeking to secure funding for subsidies and incentives,” surmises Dr. Fynnwin Prager.

ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nation's’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

 ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dr. Fynnwin Prager is Assistant Professor of Public Administration at California State University Dominguez where he is Co-Director of the South Bay Economics Institute. Dr. Mohja Rhoads is an FWP expert of over 10 years and former fellow at the University of Southern California. Dr. Jose Martinez is Co-Director of the South Bay Economics Institute at California State University Dominguez Hills.

The Research Assistants that contributed to this work are Chris Cagle, Aaron Baum, and Jacki Bacharach.

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Contact:

Irma Garcia, MTI Communications & Workforce Development Coordinator

408.924.7560

irma.garcia@sjsu.edu