City traffic.

New Project: Telecommuting During COVID-19: How Does It Shape the Future Workplace and Workforce?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees in both the public and private sectors have begun telecommuting. The resulting reduction in commuting hours and miles traveled on state highways has been staggering.

According to Duane Hill, district engineer, MnDOT District 1, these changes could profoundly impact plans for MnDOT’s highway system. Recent additions of high occupancy lanes in metropolitan areas, for example, may or may not meet future demand.

“If telecommuting takes a strong hold—if maybe 30% of people are working at home instead of commuting,” Hill explained, “that has a big impact on miles traveled.”


A new research study will help MnDOT understand how employers view the future of telecommuting in Minnesota. Drawing on a broad-based approach that includes focus groups and surveys with employers, investigators will help MnDOT understand traveling trends and manage congestion by delivering data-driven, evidence-based insights for both short-term and long-term transportation planning and congestion mitigation on local and state levels.


  1. Review research and work with the Technical Advisory Panel to develop focus group questions and protocols for online meetings.
  2. Conduct six to eight employer focus groups and analyze group data and insights.
  3. Develop and execute online surveys of employers and workers about experiences and expectations for telecommuting after pandemic shutdowns end.
  4. Present insights from focus groups and surveys in a final report of results on the impact of telecommuting, the likelihood of future telecommuting and its impact on transportation behavior. Identify differences and similarities across employer sizes, industry types and geography. 

Project Details

  • Estimated Start Date: 12/1/2020
  • Estimated Completion Date: 3/31/2022
  • Funding: Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Principal Investigator: Xinyi Qian   
  • Technical Liaison: Duane Hill  

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation to subscribe.

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