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Telework worth exploring before rail work jams roads

By Mike Meyer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:51 a.m. HST, May 03, 2011



A recent Star-Advertiser headline proclaimed, “Rail work ramps up this week — relocation of utility lines could disrupt traffic flow along Farrington Highway.”

Whether or not you’re a proponent of rail, the reality is that we’re all going to experience gridlock while the new mass transit system is under construction. It’s already beginning. And while rail will provide an alternative to cars on H-1, no one really expects it to remove more than a fraction of daily rush hour traffic.

Telecommuting or telework might not be a silver bullet, but it’s certainly low-hanging fruit that could take cars off the road without any added public expense. From my experience in managing virtual companies, those cars will stay off the road. With the right technology and experience, working from home becomes a cherished job benefit.

According to the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE), six states — Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Virginia and Texas — offer telework programs in all agencies and programs throughout state government. At least 34 states offer telework programs in various agencies and regions.

Sure, telecommuting is not for everybody. It doesn’t have to be to take enough people off the road to make a difference in rush-hour commuting.

So will it work in Hawaii?

Dave Kozuki, CEO of People Bridge, a Manoa Innovation Center-based software development company which specializes in connecting local nonprofits, businesses, neighborhood groups and government, says all of his 11 full- and part-time employees telecommute in some capacity.

“The trend,” says Kozuki, “is unmistakable. Instead of being stuck in traffic, it’s much more practical for my employees to use Skype or another technology to communicate.”

Kozuki cites a primary reason why telecommuting makes sense on Oahu: Gas prices and parking costs continue to climb.

Free or cheap tools for online collaboration such as Google docs are so good that meetings can easily be done online. With cloud computing a business’s server and individual PCs (desktops) are “in” the cloud, and your “office desktop” can be on any Internet-connected PC.

Before we have the first rail system construction and lane blockages, I propose that the leaders of our community come together in a public-private partnership that would include the city, the state, private industry and nonprofits.

We need to institute a course of action to help get cars off the roads. This includes everything from ride-sharing programs and flexible work hours to a broad commitment for telecommuting on Oahu.

There are no technical limitations. Let’s make it happen

Mike Meyer is CEO of Islanda Tech, providing managed cloud services for Hawaii. He can be reached at mike.meyer@islandatech.com.






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