Businesses take mayor up on 'work from home' Friday
South by Southwest and President Obama's visit are Friday. In an effort to combat the inevitable traffic trouble, some businesses are taking the mayor up on his recommendation to let their employees work from home March 11.
Aceable's online driver's education and defensive driving headquarters is in the heart of Downtown Austin, but their office will look empty come Friday.
"My goal is to try to get some of our Aceable team and go to someone's house everyone just hang out and do work from one person's house that's maybe not in the downtown area," explains Nick Frank who works at Aceable. He and his co-workers have the luxury of still being able to do their jobs when they aren't in the office. "If we're able to work from home and get some of that congestion down maybe that'll help some of the other people that do have to be down here," he says.
"I definitely feel it would be a good opportunity for me to just stay away from the area," says Itzett Romero, another Aceable employee. Romero worked downtown during president Obama's last visit. "I was stuck in the building for about six hours so it was not very fun," she says.
The president is expected downtown after noon. For that reason the City of Austin is sending non-essential staff home early or letting them work from home all day, if possible. Tuesday night Austin Mayor Steve Adler encouraged businesses to do the same. "Listen to your employees and don't make them spend the afternoon downtown on Friday," Adler said.
"I love it when I see employers encouraging that sort of thing," says Erica Brennes at RideScout. RideScout employees can work from home Friday through Tuesday.
They say changes like these don't just make a positive impact on traffic but employees as a whole. "We can work anywhere and often times the employees feel really rewarded given the opportunity to work from home," Brennes says.
If you must come downtown during South by Southwest, RideScout encourages people to find a safe place to park their cars outside of downtown. Then take a bus or the metro rail into the heart of the city. However, do keep in mind bus schedules will be impacted while the president is visiting Austin.