Marketwatch has an article on commuter-friendly workplaces detailing results of a study by the Department of Transportation and the EPA.
Of course, working from home is what keeps me out of the gridlock. I’ll admit that any kind of traffic really ticks me off. It’s my impatience and the fact that I could be doing something productive with that time (there’s always the Italian lessons on my iPod, I suppose).
One thing that I have tried to avoid the sense of entitlement that often comes with working for a company that has perks (or is it perqs?) that aren’t offered at many other companies. Hearing someone complain about some of these extras is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I don’t want to become one of those people. I remember what it was like being a candidate in the interview process at Microsoft and I remember what it was like to have a medical co-pay. We all make a decision every day when we get up in terms of how we feel about working at our company. Although these extra benefits aren’t the reason i work here, and I don’t think I know anyone that wouldn’t work here if they were taken away, these things add up to the kind of workplace we want to have here, where people can be focused on doing their best work. OK, now I am starting to sound like a recruiting advertisement. Sorry about that…but if I didn’t believe that stuff I wouldn’t be here.
So, back to my point. Some of the commuting options we get used to because we see them all the time. When I moved here from Chicago, I did miss taking the blue line to work. I didn’t miss the muggy underground El stop or walking in the snow (in the street sometimes) to get there. We don’t really have light rail here. But there are options for people. Obviously working from home is one of them, though it depends on the job. Even people who aren’t regular work from home people can work from home on occasion when something comes up they need to be home for. It’s pretty standard practice. Also, Microsoft pays for your bus pass. There’s a bus that runs right by my house. One of these days I am definitely going to try it. Many people will bike part-way and bus part way (there’s a bike rack on the bus which was one of those Seattle things I found unusual when I moved here). Microsoft also offers a van pool subsidy. I recently spoke with Tod Hilton, a van pooler, who explained that the van pool is a great work/life balance mechanism because when the van is leaving, the van is leaving.
There’s a transit center right next to campus so it’s pretty convenient to get off a bus and hop on a waiting shuttle to get to your building. Some of the buses have wi-fi too, I’ve been told. Some other Microsoft employees might be able to tell a little about their van pool or bus options.
My last company didn’t pay for any of my commute expenses. Not parking or train or anything. So it’s nice that Microsoft does and that there are people taking advantage of it.