Miami Traffic Is So Bad County Might Build "Telecommuting Centers" for Workers

We've all been there: It's 8 a.m. Monday morning, and you're sitting in standstill traffic on I-95 or the Turnpike or the Dolphin Expressway, wishing you were still asleep. Some jagweed cuts you off at the exit ramp, you hit every red light thereafter, and you get to work at least ten minutes late.

Miami's traffic is so brutal the county is now considering allowing employees to avoid it altogether. Last week, county commissioners voted to look into building "telecommuting centers" so county employees can work in buildings closer to their homes.

"Rather than having everybody come downtown, have them go to centers where they can basically work through technology and still accomplish what they need to do and have traffic patterns begin to change, so you don't have everybody on the same roads at the same time trying to get to the same place," Commissioner Dennis Moss said in a July meeting about the issue.

The resolution, which was cosponsored by Moss and Jean Monestime, says telecommuting could boost employee morale and improve the county's ability to recruit and retain workers. The measure would most likely affect "back office" workers, such as those in human resources or accounting, who don't typically interact with the public.

Moss and Monestime identified the southern and western parts of the county as two areas with the greatest potential for telecommuting centers. In particular, Homestead Air Reserve Base was mentioned as a possible site.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the item at a board meeting last Wednesday. The resolution directs the county mayor's office to count the number of employees who could feasibly work remotely, identify potential sites, and examine how telecommuting centers would affect traffic.

The county performed a similar study in 2006 but ultimately decided there were not enough employees to take advantage of a telecommuting center. The study also cited a shift toward home-based telecommuting, which would more substantially decrease traffic.

As of now, home-based telecommuting might still be on the table for county employees. At a meeting in July, Commissioner Xavier Suarez said about 10 percent of employees in the Village of Pinecrest work from home. Moss agreed the county should consider allowing some employees to work remotely from their houses.

"I also believe that telecommuting by staying at home is a part of what we’re going to have to do in the future in order to deal with this congestion problem," Moss said. "There’s no silver bullet. Transit, telecommuting centers, telecommuting from home — all of those are part of the solution long-term."

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