Let’s face it, whether your commute is 10 miles from campus or 30 miles, the time it takes to get to your office has increased exponentially. According to a recent article, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) shared Bay Area traffic congestion has reached record levels for the fourth straight year in a row.
The university recognizes the concerns employees have shared about long commutes and lack of affordable housing near the university campus. With this in mind, Stanford is piloting the concept of a satellite worksite to alleviate the amount of time spent on congested roadways. The university’s first test of a satellite worksite is through a short-term lease with WeWork, a coworking and office space in downtown San Jose.
Last spring, the Administrative Planning Executive Committee (APEx) made up of senior administrators whose objective is to explore how the university might improve administrative effectiveness, submitted a proposal to the university's Long Range Planning (LRP) process to provide greater support for telecommuting and remote work, including the notion of satellite work locations. Although the LRP is not yet completed, Provost Persis Drell and VP of Business Affairs and CFO Randy Livingston agreed to co-sponsor and fund the pilot satellite worksite.
The satellite worksite is one way the university is experimenting with part-time and/or full-time alternate work locations, even as the university works to expand local housing options. While telecommuting is an ongoing practice by many parts of the university, the satellite worksite provides a professional suite equipped with amenities and helps to foster collaboration and connection among staff.
“Our employees are critical to our education and research mission,” said Randy Livingston. “Unfortunately, there is an insufficient supply of affordable housing close to campus and the university cannot create enough nearby housing to fill the gap. As an alternative, we want to test the idea of enabling employees to work closer to their homes. While using a satellite worksite is not feasible for all positions, it has the potential to make a difference in reducing unbearable commutes for a meaningful number of our staff.”
The 13-month pilot began in October 2017 and concludes in November 2018. The pilot worksite has 35 available workstations each day. Located in downtown San Jose, the worksite is accessible by VTA light rail so participants are encouraged to consider public transportation.
On behalf of the university, Business Affairs will oversee space assignments and a rotation schedule. Staff members from Business Affairs and University Human Resources are the first groups to pilot the satellite worksite through winter close. Each school/unit will determine their participation in the pilot. A rotation schedule for other schools/units to test the space starting in mid-January through November 2018 is in development.
Participants will share their feedback periodically throughout the pilot program and complete a post-pilot survey. A final report summarizing the pilot use and lessons learned from participating business units will be published and shared with leadership. The outcome of the San Jose pilot worksite will help to determine whether the university will explore expansion to other satellite locations.
While commute distance from campus is a priority, another consideration is maintaining team connection and collaboration. Therefore, the pilot will also consider having a few staff members from the same work group test the pilot together.