Five Rules for Employers and Employees When Dealing with Houston Traffic

If your boss is pissed next time you are late because of this nonsense, hand them these rules.
If your boss is pissed next time you are late because of this nonsense, hand them these rules. Photo by David Rogers via Flickr
We all recognize how big of a pain traffic can be in our everyday lives. This is particularly true of commutes to and from work. No one enjoys it, but we deal with it best we can.

Employers must do the same. While those who work for a company struggle to get to work, employers try to figure out what to do with late employees. Is punishment warranted and how much? How much slack should you cut people when it comes to the brutal traffic?

Well, thankfully, we have answers in the form of some basic rules employers and employees should adopt to make working together easier. We can't help you with the traffic part.

Employers must allow time for traffic issues.
Employees must have a traffic app and use it (and plan ahead).

Bosses really do need to go easy on their people when they are late and have the legitimate excuse of traffic. It happens to bosses too. But, that doesn't excuse you to waltz in half an hour after your start time every day. As an employee, you need to have a good traffic app, use it and, especially, use it to plan ahead. This is even more important for shift workers. While a contracted employee might have more leeway, if you punch a time card, that app better get a workout on the regular.

And bosses, if you need to reprimand, we get it. But have some decency and don't be a jerk about it. First, you shouldn't be that person anyway, but, second, the traffic gods will most definitely punish you for it.

Employers must allow third-shift employees time to deal with unexpected nighttime freeway closures.
Employees must find alternate routes.

In case you haven't noticed, there are a sizable number of freeways and exit ramps that close every single night after 9 p.m. Some require some pretty substantial detours. Anyone who works the night shift needs to be aware of the closures before leaving for work and find alternate routes. Anyone who employs them needs to recognize that TxDOT doesn't care about your people getting to work on time, so give them a break.

Employers must recognize where employees live and how it affects their commutes.
Employees must recognize where they live and plan accordingly.

For seven-plus years, anyone who lived on or around Highway 290 understood a fundamental reality: You were going to be late sometimes. It is incumbent upon those of us who have to commute through construction war zones to recognize that we need patience and, more importantly, we need extra time. If you live around parts of 288 or I-45 or I-69 or the West Loop or 290 (still!), you better recognize. And bosses, you need to know that too. Believe us when we tell you that if we have to drive through unbearable traffic, the last thing that will help when we get to work is an unbearably inflexible boss.

Employers must not schedule meetings prior to 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Employees must agree to go to meetings scheduled at 9 a.m. or 4.p.m without grousing.

Seriously, what is this? Whenever we see a meeting pop up for 8 a.m. on a Monday morning or 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, we suddenly feel like we are coming down with something. When you factor in forcing your employees to leave in the heart of the worst traffic of the day, that's just not cool. Having said that, if your manager decides to adopt such a policy, you better not complain about meetings near the cutoff times. You are getting paid for this after all.

Everyone must pay attention to road closures when working in or near a construction zone.

If your place of work is in or near a construction zone, you and the entire staff need to carefully track changes to help deal with problems. Companies will likely struggle when these things happen, so they need the benefit of the doubt and employees will sometimes have trouble getting to work. If you are in the Galleria area, well, God bless you is all we can say at this point. The point is, be gentle with one another. This is going to be a tough decade.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke