Learn how some of Missoula's leading employers are making strides in promoting sustainable transportation options. Think your workplace is worthy of recognition? Tell us why!
THE TRAIL HEAD
Promoting sustainable commuting among employees is especially challenging for employers that operate retail businesses or restaurants - which make up the majority of businesses in the heart of downtown Missoula where parking is especially tight. Staff typically work part-time with variable schedules that often include evening shifts. This makes it hard to coordinate carpools, ride the bus, or even feel confident biking home. When employees face these sorts of barriers without any incentive to choose a sustainable trip, most default to driving alone without thinking twice, or even considering the other options available to them.
However, when retail stores are able to encourage sustainable commuting in a meaningful way, it can have significant impacts. One such business is
the Trail Head which offers an enticing incentive of $1 per day awarded to employees who arrive to work by bike, bus or foot. They make sure to have ample and convenient bike parking for staff and customers alike .For 15 years now, the Trail Head has been recognizing and encouraging employee commute efforts in this way. They note that it’s not always the easiest option for their employees, many of whom are also studying at UM and don’t have a lot of extra time between classes and shifts at the store. But the efforts have paid off: employees at the Trail Head regularly participate in the annual Commuter Challenge where they are consistently one of the few retail establishments involved in the program.
Commuter incentives like this help create a culture that is supportive of sustainable commuting at a workplace. Even though staff may need to rely on vehicles at times, they are at the very least encouraged to consider ALL of the options available to them before hopping behind the wheel.
onXmaps began seriously looking at their sustainable commuting behaviors as their company continued to steadily outgrow their parking capacity. In 2017, they introduced their Save-A-Space program that encourages staff to use other modes of transportation besides driving alone. To help support that choice, onX offers great incentives including indoor bike storage, raffling off dollars to be spent downtown, a telework policy, flexible work hours, and active, enthusiastic participation in Missuola In Motion's annual Commuter Challenge.
In addition to their Save-A-Space program, onX is grateful they invested in agile workstations prior to the pandemic. onX plans for remote work first meaning all team members are set up on laptops by default which allows employees to take their entire workstations home with them.
This made their transition to full remote in March 2020 particularly smooth. In addition to offering fully remote workstations, they offer a work from home stipend to all staff members and allow staff to check out additional office equipment to take home. When onX does return to the office, they plan on introducing an even more comprehensive Save-A-Space program to their staff and will certainly continue to make flexible work environments a strong theme for their future.
BIKE & TYPE
Offering a different perspective on traditional offices, coworking spaces are becoming more and more popular for freelancers, remote workers, and small teams. Bike & Type is a Missoula coworking space that opened in downtown Missoula in June 2020. They offer everything from private suites to shared workspaces and are proud to encourage sustainable commuting as most prominently seen in their business name!
To support folks sustainable commuting they located near the Mountain Line transfer station and offer plentiful bike parking. They also offer flexible working hours and promote the importance of wellness to boost productivity to their team of workers.
We typically focus on employers that encourage sustainable commuting to and from work. But for this Workplace Spotlight, the very mission of the featured business revolves around sustainable transportation. Soil Cycle is a compost collection service that relies on human powered transportation. They offer residential, commercial and workplace collection services where staff and volunteers pick up and transport compost back to their treatment facility all by bike.
To support employee sustainable travel, they offer bicycle gear and trailers for safe and responsible cycling. We also have bicycle pumps, bicycle parking, and other tools available for all staff and volunteers. In the winter, they even buy all their cyclists studded tires and bar mitts so they are warm and safe while biking to and from work, as well as during the work day.
Soil Cycle’s Executive Director (and former Bicycle Ambassador for the City).
Ecology Project International (EPI) has been encouraging sustainable commuting via their employee commuter program since 2004. The agency's leadership prioritizes transportation in organizational decision making; even their choice of office location was driven by the building's central location and convenient access to transportation options. EPI fosters a culture of sustainable commuting with the following initiatives:
monthly commuter incentive program: rewards staff with 50 cents a day for each sustainable commute
2 communal office bikes available for errands/ off-site meetings
sheltered bike rack (courtesy of an Eagle Scout project) + racks in front of building
staff are well equipped for virtual meetings and encouraged to do so
telecommute policy: this policy alone reduced staff emissions by 20%!
Participate in the Commuter Challenge during which they encourage staff to think of the most creative method to commute to work (like rollerblading, solar-powered scootering, kayaking, skateboarding and XC skiing!)
display information about Missoula In Motion and sustainable commuting in office (in the bathroom - captive audience!)
Commuter incentives at the EPI Missoula's office have even inspired their offices in other countries(Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador) to implement similar programs! Some of the biggest challenges EPI faces are coordinating staff schedules and routes. A number of staff live outside the city and many have school drop off for kids in the morning which makes carpooling impractical. Park & Ride options sometimes work for these individuals, especially on fair weather days. Frigid weather during the winter is always a challenge to encourage comfortable and safe commuting methods.
ST. PATRICK HOSPITAL
Convenient, covered and secure bike parking for employees
When employees log sustainable commutes with Way to Go! Missoula, the hospital donates $.50 per day to the Green for Good foundation which provides funding for projects that increase the sustainability of the hospital (i.e. on site garden, bike racks, recycling program, etc.
The hospital is a zero-fare partner that makes free bus service possible for all. They make a significant contribution to Mountain Line each year.
Raffles for employees who log sustainable trips
recognition to celebrate employees who are dedicated to sustainable options
internal sub-networks within Way to Go to track each department's commute habits
The hospital is about to embark on a 3 year construction project that will eliminate 150 parking spaces. The hospital is tackling this challenge by setting ambitious goals in shifting the modes employees use to get to and from work, to reduce the demand for parking spaces. The "Make Room for Patients" campaign spreads this message to employees, encouraging them to consider ALL of their transportation options and rethink their current commute habits.
St. Patrick Hospital has been encouraging sustainable commuting for over 20 years. As one of Missoula's largest employers the hospital has set an example for other large employers. The location of the hospital is centrally located and has excellent bus service with 2 bus stops located right on the medical campus. Despite being well connected to sustainable transportation options, the hospital faces many challenges to promoting sustainable commuting among staff. Many staff work 12 hour shifts that often start or end in the dark, and outside of bus schedules. On-call and intermittent staff can't always plan trips in advance. Despite these challenges, St. Pat's fosters a culture of sustainable commuting with the following initiatives: