Telecommuting for work takes hold during BART strike 

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With the BART strike, there is an option for Bay Area workers that was not readily available during the last shutdown 16 years ago: telecommuting.

The Bay Area Council, a public policy advocacy organization, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission reached out last week to encourage regional employers to allow their employees to work from home.

"Certainly the technology has advanced to a state that workers have more ability to work at home," Bay Area Council spokesman Rufus Jeffris said.

David Tracy, a San Francisco resident who works in digital marketing for a software company in Mountain View, works from home one or two days a week already. He did so Monday on the first day of the strike, but also questioned how long he would be able to do so.

"It's a busy time of year for us," said Tracy, who uses BART, Caltrain and a shuttle to get to work.

Colin Toomey — who lives in El Cerrito, works for AT&T AdWorks in San Francisco and typically takes BART to the Embarcadero station — said he thought his job might let him continue to telecommute for the duration of the strike, but not indefinitely.

His alternative would be to have his wife drive him "because paying to park the car is expensive."

Though it is unclear how many people telecommuted because of the strike, workers at one Internet cafe in downtown Oakland said they had many more customers than usual Monday, many of whom seemed to be working.

"Oh yeah, definitely there is a lot of people in the cafe today," an employee at Actual Café said. "It is much busier than usual. ... Everybody is on their laptops."

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