Prepare. Plan. Commute. Debrief.

Woman having ski lesson on mountainBy Kelly Koster

Uncertainty has been the recurring theme of 2020, and I doubt very much will be certain again in 2021. How do you adapt your parking and mobility program for uncertain times? Through skiing of course. Let me explain.

In an effort to social distance my ski habit this winter, I’m moving to the backcountry and taking an avalanche 101 course to prepare. And I’ve found the parallels to mobility planning are uncanny.

Avalanche training is all about minimizing risk and removing as much uncertainty as possible from your ride. The planning isn’t sexy (leave that to the fresh powder tracks), but it’s very necessary. In the backcountry, we use a framework to manage risk and uncertainty with diligent preparation, planning, technology, education, and teamwork. Do the best you can with the information you have available. Continually learn while riding; debrief and improve in real-time. Prepare. Plan. Ride. Debrief.

Now, re-read that paragraph and replace Ride with Commute.

Currently, the world of parking and commuting is full of uncertainty, and the avalanche training framework can help us prepare for an avalanche of another kind–overwhelming congestion and parking demand.

As the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed to frontline workers, the return-to-office timeline has seen more certainty building around it. Major companies across the U.S. are announcing plans for hybrid workplaces once the pandemic subsides. This means more choice for employees–more flexibility to work from home OR the office. And when making the daily decision to commute, they can get there by foot, bus, bike, car, or scooter.

The key to unlocking this new world of work for your employees? Adaptable parking technology with the power to accommodate flexible schedules and modes of transportation. Now is the time for industry professionals to share, learn, and adopt best practices as we begin planning our return to the workplace in 2021.

Just like in the backcountry, we’re in this together. We depend on each other. And we need to work together to solve the challenges that lie ahead by giving our businesses, commuters and cities that much more certainty when it comes to transportation, parking, and mobility.

Kelly Koster is the director of marketing and corporate affairs at Luum. Together with parking and mobility leaders from Arrive, Bedrock Detroit, and Expedia Group, she will moderate a panel on “The Hybrid Workplace: What it means for parking technology, commute flexibility, and mode shift” at IPMI’s Mobility & Innovation Summit Feb. 24-25, online. Click here for details and to register.