Employer Spotlight: Transit Benefits a “No-Brainer” for FOX Architects

FOx“We’re delighted the company is doing this!”

Julianne Kim, Talent Acquisition Manager, has received a lot of praise from employees over the new transit benefits program at FOX Architects, rolled out to employees this month. After hearing about DC’s Commuter Benefits Law and attending a SmartBenefits seminar at Metro, Julianne worked with goDCgo and our counterparts in Fairfax County to roll out transit benefits not just to the required employees in DC, but also to all employees in their Silver Line-accessible Tysons office.

Julianne loves that SmartBenefits is a zero-cost program and believes the administrative time is well worth it to make sure her employees are taken care of, making transit benefits a “no-brainer” to offer across the board. A survey conducted in partnership with goDCgo highlighted the typical commute costs for employees, which can be reduced by up to 40% through the new pre-tax program. These efforts and more helped FOX Architects recently win a “Best Workplaces for Commuters” designation for the Tysons office.

To employers starting a new transit benefits program, Julianne recommends sending out plentiful, clear communications to explain sign-up and let employees know what to expect. She also suggests offering specific monthly increments for employees to choose from, saving time for the staff member responsible for entering information into SmartBenefits.

Do you have any tips for organizations starting a commuter benefits program? Share them with info@godcgo.com to be included in our next newsletter!

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Capital Bikeshare Corporate Membership Hits the Right Spot

In spring of 2015, local DC interactive agency, Threespot signed on as a “Gold-level” Capital Bikeshare corporate member. We decided to check in with Threespot’s founder, Bill Barbot, to get a glimpse of how he and his employees have been enjoying the bikeshare benefit.

goDCgo: What was the catalyst for your firm becoming a Capital Bikeshare corporate member?CaBi image_for employer newsletter

Threespot: Partly selfish. I like to take every opportunity I can to do something physical during the
workday, and I love the idea of hopping on a bike just to clear my head. But the other catalyst, the true motivation, was recognizing the positive effect offering this to our employees would have on morale, on our sense of community, on our carbon footprint, on our health…it’s a pretty solid list of upsides with really no downsides. Besides, we moved from Columbia Heights to Chinatown in May, so giving my staff the ability to take bikeshare to work, to client meetings, or out to lunch no longer involves a trip up a massive hill to get back to the office.

goDCgo: What was the initial response when you announced this new employee benefit? 

Threespot: Pumped! It made me kind of ashamed, to be honest, that we hadn’t thought of it sooner. Not everyone uses the member benefit but (I think) everyone greatly appreciates that we offer it, even if they aren’t cyclists.

goDCgo: How many employees are currently taking advantage of the bikeshare benefit?

Threespot: Right now 19 out of our 36 employees are currently enrolled in the bikeshare program!

goDCgo: Are employees discovering ways beyond the work commute to try out bikeshare? If yes, do you have a brief story of your favorite reason to use bikeshare?

Threespot: I live just outside the Beltway in Silver Spring and have kids in school and daycare, so I almost always need a car at the ready for various pickups/drop-offs all over the area. So my personal favorites include: (1) Biking to and from client meetings. Again, now that we don’t have the massive hill to climb to return to the office from visits to our downtown clients, there’s seldom a good reason not to ride a bike to meetings. (2) Lunch! It’s a great “brain break” to be physically active, and when it means I can ride a Capital Bikeshare bike to Sundevich in Shaw or Bub and Pops on M street, I get some exercise, some fresh air AND an awesome sandwich out of the deal.

goDCgo: Active transportation (biking/walking) seems to be part of your agency’s DNA. What other sustainable/commuter transportation options do you offer to your workforce?

Threespot: My co-founder and I both live in Silver Spring and are reluctant car commuters (see reasons above) but we recognized that in a city with so many great sustainable transportation options to get to and from work, it was a civic duty of our company to figure out ways to support our staff getting to and from work with minimal environmental impact. We’ve always made it a bragging right to have our office in DC proper, and since we’ve been close to Metro stations (we were one block from Columbia Heights for a decade until our relocation, and now we’re adjacent to Gallery Place/Chinatown), we offer a transit benefits program through SmartBenefits to cover most of our employees – if not all – of their bus/rail commutes. We also subsidize gym memberships, health classes, etc. It’s all a part of recognizing the importance of brain/body balance to creative work, and trying to be good corporate citizens at the same time.

goDCgo: If Jawbox wrote a song about bikeshare, what would it be called? (Editor’s note: Bill Barbot was the guitarist for the legendary DC alt-rock band, Jawbox).  

Threespot: Believe it or not, we actually had a song on our first album called, “Green Line Delayed” about the Metro, so a song about bikeshare wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility. wink

Interested in learning more about Capital Bikeshare corporate memberships for your organization? Simply call: 202-299-2186 or email us: info@godcgo.com and we’ll get your employees on the road in no time!

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Filed under Biking, Capital Bikeshare, Employer News

A Road Map for Sustainable Transportation

For many organizations including the 100+ participants in the Department of Energy and Environment’s Smarter DC Challenge, sustainability is a key tenet of vision, mission and values. Earlier this month, goDCgo partnered with the Challenge to present a workshop on incorporating transportation into sustainability goals. Transportation accounted for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 and those emissions are increasing faster than any cause, according to the EPA. So what can organizations do to facilitate change?

Client-MeetingPublic transportation helps save 1.4 billion gallons of fuel annually. Encouraging employees to commute via mass transit can make a huge impact. The Sustainable DC Act of 2014 includes a measure to reduce the cost of commuting by mass transit, requiring employers with 20 or more employees to offer pre-tax transit benefits. In addition to the environmental benefits of promoting alternative transportation, organizations win big with tax savings and improved employee retention.

Taking transit, biking and walking also have significant health benefits for employees. People who commute by public transit get twice as much daily exercise as commuters who drive alone. The US Surgeon General recently made a rare call-to-action to promote walkability and physical activity, encouraging organizations to “adopt policies and programs that promote walking, bicycling and use of public transportation (e.g. provide access to fitness equipment and facilities, bicycle racks, walking paths and changing facilities with showers).” More recommendations can be found at surgeongeneral.gov.

Your employees have more choices than ever for commuting and getting in and around the District. Here are just a few ideas for making sustainable transportation the easy choice:Client-Meeting-2

Walking: Host a walking challenge or organize lunchtime walking groups; offer a taxable walking benefit.

Biking: Ask your building to offer secure bike parking and showers; consider offering the $20/month tax-free Bicycle Commuter Benefit and/or corporate Capital Bikeshare memberships.

Rail/bus: Offer tax-free transit benefits; keep bus and rail maps and brochures at your worksite and/or links available on your organization’s intranet; help employees know their backup options with effective internal communications.

Carpool/vanpool: Share the link to Commuter Connections’ free ridesharing database; offer reduced-fee or priority parking for employees who share the ride.

Telework: Update/create a formal policy and clearly communicate it to employees so they know what do in case of inclement weather or commute difficulties.

Car sharing: Sign up for corporate discounts with Zipcar, car2go, Enterprise CarShare and other vendors, both for company use and personal charges.

All transit modes: Spread the word about the region’s FREE Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides a free emergency ride up to four times a year for employees who use alternative transportation.

Many of these items will make your employees happy while earning you big points in the Smarter DC Challenge. Sign up today to take advantage of mentorship and educational opportunities and compete in a friendly District-wide sustainability competition.

Need assistance with any of these transportation-related items? Contact goDCgo for complimentary support: info@godcgo.com or call 202-299-2186.

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Filed under Biking, Bus, Capital Bikeshare, Car Sharing, Carpooling, Commuting, DC Circulator, DC Development, Driving, Employer News, Environment, Health, Metro, Ridesharing, Telework, Vanpooling, Walking

Enjoy Parking Spaces in a New Way

parkingday_alldate_header

Golden Triangle’s parKIT will be one of many converted parklets on September 18.

PARK(ing) Day is the third Friday in September and is a day designed to encourage people to rethink how we use public space. As we shared last month, a parklet is a conversion of on-street parking into a mini park, community seating and/or art location.

On September 18, parking spaces all around the city will be transformed from 9am – 4 pm. goDCgo will be on the 1200 block of G Street NW. Join us for games, prizes and loads of outdoor fun.

PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 and has spread across the globe in the last decade. All around the world, parking spaces will be transformed to enhance communities and encourage citizens to engage in how we use public space.

Last year goDCgo’s parklet helped the Capital Bikeshare system celebrate its fourth birthday and this year promises to be just as fun.

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Filed under Environment, Events, General Interest, Holidays

10 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss the Next SmartBenefits Employer Seminar

Commuter Benefits Seminar 2On August 13, Metro hosted another great seminar for employers to learn the ins and outs of saving big with SmartBenefits®. Account reps gave in-depth info about how and why to set up a free SmartBenefits® account to administer your organization’s pre-tax or subsidized transit benefits. goDCgo was there to share information about DC’s Commuter Benefits Ordinance and the wide variety of commuter resources employers can offer.

The next session will be held Tuesday, September 22 at Metro’s headquarters from 9:00-11:30am. Registration is free; click here to RSVP.

Here are 10 reasons to attend:

  1. See an interactive demo of how to set up a free SmartBenefits® online account and manage your employees’ benefits
  2. Meet your SmartBenefits® account rep so you know who to call if you have unexpected issues with your account
  3. Learn about SmartBenefits® AnyTime, a great feature that adds flexibility to your account by adding “reserve” funds so you can load new benefits after the monthly open enrollment period
  4. Pick up brochures and instructions to share with your employees as you roll out your new SmartBenefits® program or introduce it to new hires
  5. Receive Metro’s latest insider updates to share with your staff, such as the upcoming elimination of paper farecards
  6. Learn how SmartBenefits® makes it easy to comply with both IRS guidelines and DC’s Commuter Benefits Ordinance
  7. Get step-by-step instructions on how employees can allocate their benefits toward non-SmarTrip® transit fares such as commuter rail, commuter buses and vanpools
  8. Ask the experts how billing works, what to do if an employee loses their SmarTrip® card, or any other questions you may have
  9. Start saving money for your employees and your organization as soon as possible
  10. Meet me! I’m Grace Oran with goDCgo and I consult with hundreds of small businesses to large Fortune 500 clients on commuter transit benefits implementation

The Employer Services team at goDCgo offers complimentary assistance every step of the way to make offering commuter benefits easier than ever. From conducting commute surveys to creating custom marketing materials to advising on implementation, we are always here to help. Contact us today to get started with the commuter benefits plan that fits your organization best.

Email us: info@godcgo.com
Call us: 202-299-2186

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Filed under Employer News, Ridesharing, Transportation and Money, Vanpooling