This weekend’s Dr. Gridlock column in the Washington Post makes the case for an expansion of flexible workplace arrangements within local, state, and federal government agencies to reduce rush-hour gridlock and to set a national example.

The column, titled “Washington Could Beat the Rush on Defusing Rush Hour,” highlights the growing problem of traffic congestion in the Washington metro area, and how workplace flexibility can play a valuable role in helping to ease these concerns.

From the column:

The federal base-realignment program is going to shift thousands of workers to new locations. The sites, such as Bethesda Medical Center, Fort Belvoir and the Mark Center, have created enormous challenges for transportation planners, challenges that many commuters are not yet confident they have met… Several other programs, such as the extension of the Fairfax County Parkway, the addition of a fourth lane to a segment of I-95 in Virginia and the efforts to improve access along the Wisconsin Avenue corridor in Bethesda, are moving forward.

The column also notes, however, that projects to ease congestion are costly and slow to take effect. Private and pubic employers can play a role in easing traffic congestion, helping the environment, and boosting their employees’ productivity by adopting low-cost flexible work arrangements.

According to a recent survey, the Commuter Connections program found that 29 percent of workers in the D.C. region say their employers offer a formal program to encourage telework. About half said their employers do not allow telecommuting.

The survey found that the percentage of federal workers who telecommute at least sometimes has doubled since 2004 to about 25 percent. As the work/life field advances and employers recognize the business benefits of innovative management strategies like workplace flexibility, telework rates will continue to rise.

Of interest is knowing just how much potential there is for a larger share of the labor force to work from home or remotely from a satellite center. The survey found that at least half a million more employees could do so, with 20 percent saying they “could and would” work remotely if given the opportunity.

Corporate Voices for Working Families believes that there is a business imperative for workplace flexibility— flexibility has been shown to improve employee productivity, engagement with work, and loyalty. By using a variety of flexible work arrangements– from job-sharing and compressed work weeks to teleworking or flextime–employers can find the right mix of flexibility that works for their business and their bottom line.

The Administration has also recognized the changing needs of the workforce, and has called on employers to change the workplace to meet the needs of 21st century families. The changing face of the workforce is now more female, younger, and is juggling work with family, childcare, school, and elder-care. In this context, leading employers have a special role to play in expanding support for workplace flexibility.

That is why Corporate Voices, at the request of the White House, has started its national workplace flexibility campaign to create a broader awareness of the positive business and employee benefits of workplace flexibility. It is encouraging businesses to sign its Statement of Support for Expanding Workplace Flexibility and to express their support for this campaign.

We currently have 25 Business Champions leading the way in the trend toward more flexible workplaces– most recent companies to join are Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. To learn more about the benefits of joining the campaign and how to sign our Statement– please see the campaign website, “Workplace Flexibility: Ensuring Success for the 21st Century.”