Time to think out of the box.

Boston’s innovation economy is booming. A crowning accomplishment was GE’s recent announcement that it will relocate its Corporate headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut.

At the same time, commutes across the Boston metro area have worsened dramatically as many parts of our transportation system—both mass transit and roads—are running well over capacity during peak commute times. While cries go out for investment in new infrastructure, I would like to offer a simpler solution:

Allow employees to work at home one day per week.

Offering work from home options is a simple, low cost measure that would reduce commute times, increase employee well-being, increase productivity, and help reduce pollution.

Addressing Productivity Concerns

I know the gut reaction will be that we cannot operate our companies if some of our people are not in the office. But with our investments in technology infrastructure, employees are always connected. They can easily work with colleagues online. They do it all the time, whether during their commute, mornings or evenings.

In fact, studies have shown that people working at home can be at least as productive, if not more productive than when they are in the office. When we give employees more flexibility and freedom over where and how they work, they are more engaged and more productive—which in turn directly impacts both profits and stock price.

Employee Engagement Trumps Location

Today, by contrast, less than half of employees consider themselves engaged into the businesses where they work.

And how could they be? With our long commutes, it gets harder and harder to find any downtime. Workers who have children in day care find their lives even more stressed as they rush to or from the office to make their first meeting or pick up children from after care. It’s no wonder that employees’ hearts and minds aren’t centered on helping their companies succeed—they’re just trying to make it through the day!

All other proposals to increase infrastructure—more trains, more roads—cost a lot of money, will take a long time, and do not reflect our connected society. They also do not account for the cost of the well-being of employees. And in the meantime, state and city governments are struggling to find funds for these projects.

Governor Baker can lead the way here by working with the private sector. He can also kickoff the program with state workers so as to lead by example to smaller private companies.

Let’s use 21st century solutions to continue to grow our region and enhance our quality of life. The region has been a leader in so many ways. Let’s lead here, too.