When Can Californians Work From Home: Examining Land Use and Parking Effects on Telework

Research Lead: Michael Manville

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: As the COVID-19 pandemic ends, policymakers are pondering the future of commuting. The pandemic led to a surge in telework and a concomitant reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), air pollution, and congestion. Will the pandemic’s gradual end see the surge in telework end as well, and thus also curtail its attendant benefits? Are there ways to recover some of the travel-related benefits California saw during the pandemic, even as the economy returns to full steam? These questions are difficult to answer, in part because it is not clear that more telework leads to less total vehicle travel, and in part because the primary factors that determine whether someone teleworks—the type of job they have and their employers’ policies about work schedules—lie largely beyond policymakers’ control. There are, however, some potential policy actions that the state could take to encourage more work from home when it is feasible to do so.

Project Description: Using data from the California Household Travel Survey and the American Housing Survey, this research project will investigate ways the state can encourage more work from home. One way could be by altering the supply and price of commuter parking, which may influence both the daily commute and vehicle travel overall. Policies that directly or indirectly increase the price of parking could be both beneficial in their own right and encourage more teleworking among workers for whom it is an option. The project will also examine how land use policy, changes to the built environment, and the use of non-auto modes more generally, with a particular focus on transit, could promote teleworking. The findings should yield a better picture of how telework can contribute to VMT reductions, as well as offering feasible policy options for state leaders to pursue.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $37,510