Santa Clara County Explores Expansion of Telecommuting Post-COVID 19

On May 5th, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to examine ways to continue to encourage telecommuting after the COVID-19 crisis ends, recognizing the benefits of improved air quality and reduced congestion that the Bay Area has experienced since shelter-in-place policies began and many employees began working from home.

The recommendation, which was brought to the Board by County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who is also the BARC Governing Board Chair, will include examining ways in which County employees can continue to work remotely, post-COVID 19, to maintain high productivity levels while reducing climate impacts. The recommendation also seeks to engage private employers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, proposing a "Clear Air Telecommute Challenge" to encourage large employers to increase the number of employees who telecommute, in partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), a BARC member agency. This initiative could be a model for the public sector to incentivize continued telecommuting as the Bay Area moves beyond shelter-in-place.

"Chavez said that in Silicon Valley, the average time for residents to get to work rose 25% in the last 15 years, transportation costs rose 21% in the last five years and 100,000 employees have endured three-hour 'mega-commutes'," according to a May 4 article in the Mercury News. The article goes on to state that "The air-quality benefits over the last seven weeks are stunning: a 26% drop in carbon dioxide 'greenhouse' gas, 20% reduction in airborne fine particulate matter and a 38% decline in nitrogen oxides, or smog."

"Board Referral to consider recommendations relating to a telecommuting benefits analysis and framework for employees of the region, both public and private, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic", County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors

"Coronavirus made telework necessary. Now Santa Clara County wants to explore ways to keep it", Mercury News