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A new kind of transportation perk for the age of the ‘Great Resignation’

Companies are offering new, flexible, on-demand transit solutions to get employees to work when they need to — and get rid of empty buses.

Via Transportation •
For many corporate employees across industries, working five days per week in the office is a thing of the past. In early 2021, employers estimated that 50% of their workforce would be back five days a week when the pandemic waned; now, they say more like 20%.

At a time when unemployment is low and employees hold a lot of power — and are exercising it, in the form of the “Great Resignation”  — the top-requested perks and benefits are related to hybrid and remote work. To retain top talent, many companies are pushing back their “return-to-office” deadlines, or removing them entirely. At the same time, with recent hiring slowdowns — especially in tech — more employees may want to be in the office, at least part time, to demonstrate their commitment. 

These changes pose a challenge for employers who want to maintain a consistent in-office culture, and make many of their traditional transportation-oriented perks, like subsidized transit passes or fixed-line shuttles, less relevant. If employees are coming into work, they’re doing it at odd times (when public transit runs less frequently and conveniently), only a couple of days per week, and wholly uncoordinated with one another (rendering “peak” time shuttles impractical). These employees likely turned back to their personal cars and are now under assault from soaring gas prices, making telecommuting the far more appealing choice. It’s a vicious cycle: employees are coming into the office less, which makes offering transportation perks difficult, which in turn keeps employees from coming into the office.  

But in fact, hybrid work presents a critical opportunity for companies looking to embrace technology and attract new talent with transportation offerings that are keyed into modern commute patterns. Rather than a fixed-route shuttle system, timed with what used to be “peak” commute times, companies can leverage a more flexible, on-demand service that sends smaller vehicles to employees’ homes or transit stops as needed, yet still aggregates riders into shared trips to reduce costs and the burden on the environment. 

Microtransit,” as this mode is called, has seen a pandemic-era boom precisely because its flexibility is suited to irregular travel. Public transit agencies have been replacing underperforming fixed routes with microtransit to better accommodate travel outside of the traditional morning and evening peaks and some large employers have been looking to Via to implement the same kinds of systems for their employees, and for the same reason: microtransit offers an affordable, sustainable alternative to private vehicle travel, without the rigidity of a fixed schedule. Looking to upgrade your corporate transportation services? 

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