Central Texas Mobility Challenge

The Thrival Company was approached to support the first city-wide ‘Work-from-Home’ day due to its experience with creating mobility and workplace programs for large corporations, city governments and government agencies. This ‘idea’ started as an unfunded community effort through an Austin-based volunteer organization, as Central Texas was climbing in the rankings of worst traffic in the U.S.  The Thrival Company donates a certain percentage annually of its time and profits to community-based programs to benefit its hometown, so Thrival agreed to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders such as city and county governments, transportation management associations, chambers of commerce and private companies to complete several steps to support long-term planning.

The scope of this project (still ongoing) includes:

  • A stakeholder assessment and engagement plan
  • A current state assessment
  • A future state work plan design to drive a reduction in drive-alone traffic behaviors by targeting employers instead of individuals as was traditionally the practice nationwide. and the business could implement the programs with just labor and little to no capital investment.
  • Employer recruitment
  • Online and face-to-face training sessions
  • Goal setting and strategic planning support
  • Survey and metric development
  • Program implementation and/or expansion support
  • Creating and reviewing policies and guidelines
  • Troubleshooting sessions and help-lines during implementation
  • Creating comprehensive sample forms and tools
  • Presentations to leadership, council and community groups
  • Recognition/certification of participants and the development of a comprehensive mobility toolkit that allowed employers to adapt and design customized programs without having to pay an outside consultant to build those programs

The Thrival Company’s experience in the design of large scale social/behavioral change programs through government agencies and municipalities, enabled the development of a community-based, employer-focused work design plan. Thrival proposed to the involved agencies and organizations that the effort designed become a fully funded program and expanded to include a community challenge with the goal of having 50+ organizations (250,000+ employee commuters) support their employees to change their behavior and not drive alone two-days per week by the Year 2040. The reward for organizations taking the challenge was a focused one year strategic planning, change and work plan design assistance effort funded by the City of Austin, a transportation management association (TMA) and other agencies and private employers long-term. The heart of the Thrival proposal was to build a focused ‘challenge’ that organizations could join to build mobility programs and re-design their workplaces to be mobile friendly at a fraction of the cost typically paid in the open marketplace.

The specific challenges in implementing this project included:

  • Enrolling employers with 100+ employees to voluntarily engage in 12 months of intensive strategic planning, employee assessment, workplace re-design, management engagement, training and program implementation and sign a public challenge committing to achieving a 20% reduction in drive-alone behavior by 2020 and 40% by 2040.
  • Building the business case for state and local governments as well as for-profit entities to commit to permanent and organization-wide change to a mobile work environment despite resistance from leadership and middle-management.
  • Create a streamlined engagement and consulting process using Thrival and TMA resources to reduce the average cost of implementation from $250K to less than $25K per employer.
  • Develop a mobility implementation toolkit that allowed employers to implement a mobile workplace program in less than 20% of the time normally required to build the programs within an entity.
  • Attract and engage 3rd party solution providers to become a part of the suite of services offered to every employer from telework technologies, to mobile workplace office layout and designs, to carpool/vanpool services and biking solutions.
  • Managing 50+ public and private organizations to a common goal and having them work together by geographic region to cost share and leverage resources.
  • Having the Texas Department of Transportation be the first challenge signer and to complete the planning process first.

Specific Achievements to date have included:

  • A database of thousands of employees surveyed across Central Texas from more than 50 organizations representing 250,000+ employees and their preferred options for commute, telework, congestion relief, flex schedules, and workplace needs as well as the barriers to their participation, management concerns, preferred benefits, training requirements and best communication methods directly applicable to the Central Texas area employment base which will greatly benefit the transportation project.
  • 50+ Organizations Have Taken the Challenge. The pilot program was launched in 2014 with the Texas Department of Transportation and 11 other organizations ‘taking the challenge’ which yielded impressive results (36K+ employees impacted now having access to one or more mobility programs through their employer). In 2015, the program was fully funded, we added another 15 organizations who took the challenge and implemented. In 2016, another 20 organizations took the challenge and we are just finishing strategic planning and work design plans.
  • To date, 50+ employers more than 250,000 employees will have access to one or more mobility options by the year 2020 to keep them out of congestion and still get to their workplaces (in-person and/or virtually).
  • Evaluation surveys to date show a 4.4/5.0 score in all key metric areas for employer satisfaction with the strategic planning, stakeholder engagements, training programs, work plans, and implementation support.
  • Employers have chosen to implement 3-5 different mobility options that allow more than 75% of their workforces to participate in at least one option.
  • In addition, Thrival has built relationships with every major commute option provider, remote-work technology partners, alternative work spaces, and created an ongoing relationship with the public and private employment based in Central Texas into an active community that allow us to almost instantly pair a need by an employer with a solution provider for that issue and introduce employers to each other to solve congestion issues together and leverage resources vs. work alone.
  • The key to the success of the project was a streamlined change management/planning approach approach, designed by Thrival, to assist the maximum amount of businesses to implement telework and commuter programs at a fraction of the typical cost. Entities that want to create programs can spend $50,000 – $250,000 to build and implement a program. With this approach, the city could invest $5,000 or less per organization.