Commute Options Part of Marriott’s Efforts To Be a Good Neighbor
“Bethesda is a pretty great community to be a part of,” said Stacey Cohen, vice president of workplace management at Marriott International. Cohen spent the past six years coordinating the giant relocation project that brought the company’s headquarters to downtown Bethesda, and she manages the new headquarters building at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue.
Cohen explained that Bethesda has always been Marriott’s home. “Our first corporate headquarters was on River Road, and then we were at Fernwood Road for just over 40 years, so we have our roots in the area,” she said. “One of the big decisions about where to move to was, we wanted to join an established community and be a part of that community.”
Downtown Bethesda checked off all the boxes Marriott was looking for, including multiple mobility options for employees (whom the company refers to as associates). The new building’s proximity to the Bethesda Metro Station, which also provides easy access to multiple bus routes, means Marriott associates can make the most of their employer-provided transit subsidy. Associates can get up to $120 a month when they commute via public transportation.
“It’s flexible as to the type of public transit they choose to use, but our goal is to reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles on the road,” said Cohen. The transit benefit is administered by Marriott’s human resources department. The benefit is available to all 3,000+ associates at headquarters, she noted.
Like many employers during the pandemic, Marriott embraced remote work (what transportation experts have long called telework or telecommuting) as a way to continue daily operations while supporting public health mandates. Telework worked so well that the company decided to move forward with a hybrid approach that includes both remote and in-person work for all its associates at headquarters, except those, like janitors and engineers, whose jobs really must be done in person.
“We learned a lot about how to successfully work remotely,” said Cohen. “Our associates don’t have a fixed number of days per week in the office, but we encourage them to come in for collaborative encounters.”
Associates making the trip into downtown Bethesda via bicycle or scooter have access to 100 lockable bike cages in the headquarters basement garage. They also have convenient locker rooms available next to the bike cages.
For those associates who opt to drive — or carpool — to headquarters, Marriott is using technology to inspire the use of electric vehicles: The headquarters garage includes 66 EV charging stations. Cohen also plans to explore charging technology for electric bikes.
Marriott is sensitive to the effects of bringing its headquarters workforce into downtown, hence its support for telework and multiple commute options to keep traffic and parking impacts to a minimum.
“We definitely want to be a good neighbor,” said Cohen. “We just finished our move-in, so we’re in a mode right now of seeing where we end up and how we can best partner with the community while also taking care of our associates.”