Tennessee employers change schedules to help combat traffic

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Traffic can be especially stressful the closer you get to downtown Nashville during morning and evening rush hours.

A drive that may normally take 20 minutes any other time of day may take at least 45 minutes as you head to or from work Monday through Friday.

Because of this, some large company managers are adjusting employee work hours so there are fewer people on the roads all at once. Some are even allowing their employees to work from home.

As motorists battle Nashville traffic day in and day out, some, including those with Tennessee state government, think there has to be a solution.

“We recognized as the largest employer in the state of Tennessee that we did have a responsibility to help ease some of the congestion in the downtown area,” said Evan Smith, AWS Lead for the State of Tennessee.

He also said, “We have mobile work, which just means they’re in the field, they’re working directly with their customer and we also have work from home.”

(Photo: WKRN)

AWS has been in existence for about two years and is operational in 16 of the 23 state departments.

“At last count, we had about 44,000 people who work for the state of Tennessee. We have a few thousand people who are participating in the program, about 95 percent of those people are working from home at least one to two days a week, if not more,” Smith told News 2.

He added the program is functioning in more than one way.

“If employees get to work from home as opposed to coming into downtown, checking with their manager and then going back out into the community that they serve, they start in that community, so they don’t have to put that pressure on the downtown infrastructure system.”

According to the Nashville Downtown Partnership, 65,000 people work downtown. Eighty-four percent of those drive alone.

The state isn’t the only large employer trying to ease this traffic congestion.

“At Asurion, we value results over hours worked in the office so it’s created an opportunity where our salaried employees have flexibility in their schedules where they can work at home, or schedule meetings and times of start and stop at work around traffic,” said Scott Avila with Asurion.

Asurion employs more than 3,000 people, which means that many more people on the roads each morning. But instead of having them in one location, in addition to working from home, others work in offices that are now spread out around the city.

“It creates an opportunity to where our employees can flex to where they need to be, and with staggered stop and start times, it allows them to kind of alleviate all coming in at 9 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m.,” said Avilia.

Jason Spangler, staffing manager with local staffing company Ranstad said they’re seeing smaller businesses moving towards the same idea of adjusting hours or allowing employees to work from home, especially in the past year.

Spangler said, “Some people are hoping for employment opportunities that are less traditional in an office setting 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but having flexibility, and so if employers can offer that flexibility, that can be appealing to young workers or workers that have responsibilities related to parenting or just who want to avoid terrible traffic.”

The more businesses that get on board implementing similar programs, the better the traffic situation will be.

News 2 learned the state’s AWS program is not only helping ease traffic jams, but in full implementation, it will save the state and taxpayers more than $40 million.

You can learn more about the AWS program on their website.