By Brad Dillman, CAIA FRM, MSc London School of Economics & Political Science
Like stoic passengers attempting to negotiate the horrific conditions of modern flight travel, denizens of Atlanta know that when it comes to auto traffic, “We are all in this together.” No, I don’t mean that drivers consistently demonstrate basic common sense and civility. I mean that there is an understanding that the burdens of the commute are something that we all carry more than we want to, regardless of our general lot in life. Though this is promptly forgotten once we are actually behind the wheel and the expletives fly, the traffic experience is an obligatory part of everyday conversation – the way people elsewhere might talk about the weather.
Spoken or not, many Atlanta offices have flexible arrangements, made all the more feasible by the issuance of company laptops or the ability to login remotely. You might be able to stagger your schedule, being in the office 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM or 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, or occasionally pull longer hours Monday through Thursday and then work remotely on Fridays. It stands to reason that these arrangements can boost productivity, via time and stress saved, and can serve to enlarge the pool of potential workers by making a given office site more accessible to otherwise time-distanced residential locations. A staggered schedule can minimize the impact of outlier events, like when an accident at peak hours turns an already arduous commute into an experience that compromises an entire day’s productivity, a loss which might then echo through the rest of the week or cascade through adjacent work streams. Commuting considerations are notable for a metro like Atlanta, which is undergoing a number of changes that will both add to and attempt to ameliorate traffic-related issues.
About ten miles northwest of downtown Atlanta is Cumberland. Centered around the intersections of the 285 perimeter highway and I-75, it’s the 5th largest office district in the metro area, and will be home to the new Atlanta Braves baseball stadium, Atlanta SunTrust Park, which is slated to open in the spring. To reduce congestion some $2 Billion in public infrastructure investments are either planned or underway. Planned improvements to the area include pedestrian bridges, an expanded bus service known as the Cumberland Circulator, and a mixed-use lifestyle development called The Battery Atlanta, which is anchored by the stadium.