By Shawn Conrad, CAE
We’ve all seen the reports around the tight labor market and rightfully so. Hospitality, construction, retail, and manufacturing industries like parking and mobility are grappling with a shortage of workers as our businesses and economy inch forward.
While the search for new employees is getting a lot of attention, it’s important to check-in on our current staff members to see how they are coping with today’s stresses.
In a number of human resources-focused reports on the status of employees’ mental health during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that our employees are dealing with an extra heaping of worries that stem from COVID, its variants, the stress of children being home and schooled virtually, work budgets being cut or reduced, and a plethora of work or personal issues. With all this happening at once, take some time to see how your team members are coping. While the issues people deal with can be complex, there are a few things supervisors can do to decrease an employee’s stress and anxieties:
- Be transparent with your information–surprises amplify anxieties.
- Be flexible, if possible, with work hours to help parents work around their children’s virtual schooling.
- Plan work projects in advance and prioritize them so co-workers can meet expectations and timetables.
- Ask your employees how they are doing–and really listen to their response.
- Acknowledge what people are doing and let them know you appreciate them.
Most important, be sure to focus on your well-being. As the airline industries have cemented in our brains, put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help others.
There are going to be challenges ahead of us, but if we look after each other and take care of our physical and mental well-being, we will be able to tackle these challenges and seize the opportunities coming our way as well.
Shawn Conrad, CAE, is IPMI’s CEO.
By Jeff Perkins
The pandemic has not only changed the world forever, but has also had a significant impact on the parking industry. In 2020, the volume of parking significantly decreased, and many of the underlying consumer behaviors related to parking transformed. Now, as parking comes back and surpasses the pre-COVID levels, the big question is: what’s has really changed?
The insights from the past 20 months give us some ideas about what we can expect in the future. Here are a few observations:
- People are gravitating to their personal vehicles versus public transportation, putting further strain on city congestion and parking. Only time will tell if people go back to using public transit, but for now, the personal vehicle is clearly the preferred method of transportation.
- Office buildings that used to be full five days a week now see fewer employees as companies offer much more flexibility. This has led to commercial properties rethinking how parking is allocated as companies are less willing to pay for unused spots.
- Universities are offering much more flexibility for parking. Rather than forcing students to buy a permit for a semester, many schools are introducing a “daily decision” option, giving students the option to pay as they go.
As some of these trends continue to evolve, the parking industry will need to take a closer look at policies and technologies to ensure they are keeping up with the changes in consumer behavior. The reality is, what worked in 2019 just might not work in 2022 and beyond.
Jeff Perkins is CEO of ParkMobile.
Delaware City became the next municipality to consider making COVID-inspired on-street parking changes permanent last week when its city council moved to keep “grab and go” downtown parking spaces for the long haul.
Twenty-three such on-street spaces will stay in the downtown permanently, allowing drivers to park for up to 15 minutes to pick up purchases, restaurant orders, etc.
The city follows Philadelphia, where legislation was introduced to keep “streeteries” and outdoor restaurant/cafe seating areas on sidewalks and in on-street parking spaces with a new process for approval.
Is this happening in your municipality? How is your organization involved? Let us know!
By Tina Altman
Do you think curbside pickup should continue once things get back to “normal?”
I used the Walmart pick up/delivery services long before COVID-19 came along. I’m not a shopper and would much rather select what I need and move on to better things. I’m all for the curbside staying in place!
There are so many good reasons to keep it. Along with the ability to continue distancing, we also save time and money, and there are no lines or crowds to wait in. It’s a win-win in my eyes!
I’m still using curbside service for larger grocery orders, online shopping, and dinner pick-up. Curbside saves me money by letting me avoid the temptation to pick up random things to add to my cart, and it gives me more time to do other, more important things. Many businesses have this service down to a science while others leave a lot to be desired and could really use some pointers! How does curbside pick up affect you?
Tina Altman is IPMI’s manager, member and events services.
By Sarah Blouch, Carl DePinto, Zachary Pearce, and Keith Palma
Initiating changes to parking and mobility systems on college campuses can be difficult and frustrating for campus parking professionals. New solutions to old problems abound as technology and innovation flourish in the industry. But the fear of the unknown, competing needs for a scarce resource that require established priorities, and the inability to gain consensus (much less a direction) on those critical priorities are all frequent reasons why university leaders tend to resist making changes. They have enough challenges to deal with at any given time, so why create more?
Well, it turns out there is nothing like a good crisis to help the evolution of change move forward! While the pandemic forced everyone into crises management mode for the past 15 months, we have now shifted into planning for a “new normal” and at the same time, seizing opportunities to implement long-desired changes to make our systems more effective for the customer and efficient for operations. Flexible and scalable parking options to address hybrid work schedules, protocols around cleanliness and social distancing, and event parking changes to better manage traffic and enhance safety for the sellers are all now possible (and in many cases required) to manage the long-term aftereffects of COVID-19.
It is time to embrace the ”E” words: Evolutions in operations to Enhance Efficiency and Effectiveness.
Carl DePinto and Zach Pearce are with Duke University and Duke Health; and Sarah Blouch and Keith Palma are with CampusParc. They will present on this topic at the 2021 IPMI Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo, Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, in Tampa, Fla.
By Kathleen Federici, MEd
Many organizations are looking to hire talent to lead their mission in some way or another. According to Employee Benefits News, while many organizations made layoffs at the start of the pandemic, more than 80 percent plan to hire new employees. So the job posting goes up, but where are the qualified applicants? That resume from the retail chain associate doesn’t read as having any of the qualifications for the job. That nurse or teacher who wants a career re-boot has never worked in the industry before. Maybe they could do the job? But wait, what about the required technology skills?
As you recruit, you may find this pool of candidates is missing critical skills to be able to perform a job successfully. Perhaps your organization can start an apprenticeship program to upskill these candidates.
Breaking a role down into easy and generalizable chunks can assist when hiring during the pandemic. Does the role require administrative work? If yes, what projects require that attention to detail? Does the role require customer service skills? If, yes, how has the candidate demonstrated those skills with others in previous roles? Does the role require systems, reporting, or software skills? If yes, what technology skills are required?
Employers have mastered the transition to operating remotely during the pandemic. Building a virtual workforce is the next hurdle employers face as they make plans to rehire this year. Many candidates want to continue to work from home for a myriad of reasons.
Chin up. Hiring during the pandemic can be challenging, but your next round of awesome employees is right around the corner!
Katherine Federici, MEd, is IPMI’s director of professional development.
By Angel Diaz, Henry Espinosa, and Mike Mckeon
Have you been to a large sporting event lately and said, “WOW, that was painless getting to my parking spot?” We didn’t think so, but there is a better way–Free Flow Frictionless Parking.
At LoanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins, getting to the ballpark just got easier. By leveraging LPR technology, the Miami Parking Authority and the Miami Marlins have eliminated points of friction at the entrances to their four parking garages and six surface lots. There’s no need to stop to get your prepaid pass scanned or pay by cash or with credit card anymore. Simply proceed to your parking space and your license plate is your parking credential.
Reduced ingress times, improved guest experience, and a better bottom line are just a few of the benefits derived from this new mode of parking for stadiums, arenas, and other large event venues.
Our parking ecosystem includes many established parking technology companies that worked together to bring to fruition the first stadium in the country using this mode of parking operations to mitigate traffic and congestion and improve on the overall experience of coming to a large venue like LoanDepot Park–37,000 capacity. And, though we were not thinking about viruses and pandemics in 2019 when we first began developing our Free Flow parking program, in hindsight, it turned out to be the safest and healthiest way to conduct event parking at large event venues.
Angel Diaz and Henry Espinosa with the Miami Parking Authority and Mike Mckeon with Parking Partners LLC, will present on this topic at the 2021 IPMI Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo, Nov. 29 – Dec. 3, in Tampa, Fla. Click here for details and to register.
As COVID-19 took hold in spring 2020, UCLA closed its campus to all but essential employees and its world-renowned medical center, which continued to operate throughout the pandemic, as expected. Beyond that, however, nearly 80 percent of campus employees (excluding medical center staff) were sent home and asked to telecommute for the foreseeable future. A committee was formed to assess the state of telecommuting on campus, and to seek how to lock in, or continue, the benefits of telecommuting that seemed to be existent during the mass telecommuting period.
At the same time, it had become apparent that—contrary to published research that suggested public transit was not a significant source of coronavirus transmission—many bus riders who were part of the essential workforce were no longer traveling via public transit. In fact, many were driving to and from campus on a daily basis. As expected, modes of travel that involve close proximity to other people experienced dramatic declines in participation during the pandemic. As society recovers and campus activity returns to previous levels, survey data indicates strong and continued reticence for many of these previous sustainable transportation commuters to get back on the bus or into a vanpool, which worries parking administrators.
Read how UCLA is preparing for campus re-opening this fall, including its plans for cars, transit, and other modes of transportation in a COVID-transformed environment. The whole case study is in the July issue of Parking & Mobility magazine; click here to read it.
By Brett Wood, CAPP, PE
The past 15 months have taught us many valuable lessons, including some aroudn increased awareness and adapting to change. Our industry has certainly managed this change in its own unique way, with parking and mobility programs implementing improvements that were rooted in being proactive and using policy, operations, technology, and service as a means of strengthening our communities and promoting wellness and accessibility without compromising safety.
As we leave the final stages of the pandemic and move into the full stages of recovery, the lessons learned from the pandemic era will serve us well as we encounter new and different disruptions along the way. From the immediate effects of changing commutes to the longer-term impacts of climate change and a transportation system shifting to autonomy and shared-fleet services, our industry will continue to face disruption. And the last year has proven we don’t really know what’s in store for us.
At next week’s virtual IPMI Mobility and Innovation Summit, the IPMI Research & Innovation Task Force has assembled a panel of parking and mobility professionals who are facing immediate and long-term disruptions head on and moving their communities forward with transformational projects, pilots, and policy changes:
- Jeff Petry from Eugene, Ore., is implementing community-based changes to promote equity in the community and support re-opening efforts.
- Phil Garcia of Facebook is preparing the campus for a return to work with innovative practices to support changing commutes.
- Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPA, of UC Davis is implementing a new payment structure rooted in transportation demand management and flexible options for changing commutes.
We hope you’ll join us for the Summit and this particular discussion on Wednesday June 30, at 4:15 p.m. Eastern. And we hope you’ll continue to prepare yourself and your community for change in a positive way!
Brett Wood, CAPP, PE, is president of Wood Solutions Group.
As an industry, we have been positioning ourselves for disruption for several years. How would we respond to impacts from micro-mobility, ride-share, and ultimately autonomous vehicles and the impending changes to parking demands and activity? In the years leading up to 2020, we spent considerable time and brainpower thinking about how to adapt management, operations, design, and implementation of parking as a means of responding to these disruptions and maintaining sustainable operations moving forward. And then spring 2020 happened and everything was turned on its head.
In the current issue of Parking & Mobility, Brett Wood, CAPP, PE, looks at what we learned during COVID-19–and one of the biggest lessons is ensuring financial diversity in parking and mobility operations. Diversifying revenue streams, he writes, can future-proof organizations against challenging times ahead. Lots of lessons and things to think about–get them here.