Winter Walking Tips: Best Tips for Staying Safe

It’s no surprise that getting outside in the winter months becomes more challenging. Between the shorter days, the potential for bad weather, and cooler temperatures, cold weather often makes us want to curl up and stay in our warm homes, avoiding that trip outside altogether. But that’s not to say getting outside has to be a chore – staying safe and getting your steps in is still possible in the winter. 

Try these tips for getting around safely this winter to stay warm and motivated while outdoors.  

If you venture outside in the dark, don’t forget light.  

This is important! With daylight savings in full swing, walking or biking outside after the sun goes down can be a safety hazard without proper visibility. Make yourself visible to vehicles and other pedestrians by adding lights or reflectors to your bike or body. 

• Stay in well-lit areas if possible 

• Wear lightly colored or reflective clothing 

• Deck out your bike with bike lights 

Pick your best route ahead of time. 

Finding the running, walking, or biking route you wish to tackle ahead of time is helpful, especially when it’s dark out. Luckily, there are plenty of apps that can help you do this. Under Armor’s MapMyRunMapMyWalk, and MapMyRide apps are great whether you are mapping your everyday commute to work or discovering a new route for your long run days. The apps can help you plan out your distance and route ahead of time and help ensure you stay on safe and well-light streets and trails. 

Find what clothing and accessories work best for you!  

If you exercise outside often, walk, or bike to work, you likely know what your perfect winter set-up is already. Do you run hot or cold? Do you like layers or as little laying as possible? The best way to stay warm, dry, and comfortable during cold-weather exercise is to learn how to properly outfit yourself for the weather conditions and type of exercise. When you step outside to begin walking or biking, you should feel chilly, but not cold. During your workout, you want to feel warm, not hot, and sweaty. 

Don’t forget your fluids.  

Plenty of water/fluids is just as important in the cold weather as in the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout, even if you’re not thirsty. Dehydration happens quickly in the winter from sweating and the drying power of the stronger winds, leaving your skin parched and body dehydrated. Don’t forget your water!  

Protect your extremities.  

Wonder why your hands, feet, head, and ears get so cold in the winter? When your body gets cold, blood flow concentrates at your body’s core, leaving your extremities vulnerable to feeling cold. Depending on the temperatures, be sure to grab a hat, gloves, scarf, and thick socks before you head outdoors. Here are items you need for those outdoor adventures this season. 

We hope you stay warm and active this winter! If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to the Go West Alex team.  

Ergonomics Checklist for Your Home Office

We want you to stop what you’re doing and evaluate your level of comfort! Feeling any neck pain? Wrist pain? Achy back pain? We know it’s easy to brush off pain during your workday – after all, we know many times that your to-do list is miles long, and there is no time to waste getting comfortable! Especially when you’re working from home.
Whether you’re working from home due to COVID or you’ve been a remote worker for years, our team has you covered with a checklist for tips to put into action in your office to ensure you have an ergonomically inclined desk, because back pain and feeling uncomfortable while sitting is no fun and can actually cause your productivity and focus to suffer!
So, what exactly are ergonomics? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ergonomics means fitting a workspace to the end user’s needs. To put it simply, ergonomics aims to increase efficiency and productivity and reduce discomfort… aka muscle fatigue, lower back problems, neck pain, etc.


We have a checklist for you to evaluate and see if you have an ergonomically inclined workspace, whether you’re in the office or at home!


How many ergonomic tips can you check-off and/or put into action at your desk?


– Sit with your feet flat on the floor
– Ensure your knees are at about a 90-degree angle
– Ensure your hips are at about a 90-degree angle
– Keep your elbows at about a 90-degree angle when typing and using a mouse
– Raise your monitor or laptop so that your line of sight is in the top 1/3 of the screen; invest in a riser if needed
– Take breaks to stretch every hour
– Give your eyes a break from the screen when you start to feel fatigued or invest in a pair of blue light glasses


For more ergonomic tips for your office, be sure to check-out Very Well Health’s blog post.

And as always, we are here for you! Did you know that our team members are Telework Certified? Meaning our team can give you tips on setting up a home office, provide tools for setting up a telework program for your company, and much more! Be sure to reach out to us at if you have any questions regarding your commute or working from home. Thank you for staying connected with us!

Transit Appreciation Month

Do you take transit to work or hoping to do so soon? In celebration of October being Transit Appreciation month, we have you covered with tips and updates on everything you need to know before taking transit in the D.C Metro area.  

Whether you ride the bus or take the Metro on occasion, we want to keep you informed on new safety standards and rules in response to COVID-19 by providing you with transit information and tips to best inform your trip.   

Metro   

Your commute on the Metro has changed, and WMATA is taking action to keep you safer on-board. Visit WMATA’s website for more information and updates on service offerings.  

Bus   

Most bus services in the area are operating at reduced schedules and service capacities, and your typical bus route may not be in service. Be sure to visit your preferred bus service’s website below for up to date service changes and advisories.  

Metrobus   

Fairfax Connector  

OmniRide   

VRE   

ART  

DASH  

Tips for Commuting on Transit  

  • Familiarize Yourself with the New Schedules  

Visit your preferred transit service’s website to determine any changes to your typical route or schedule. Due to increased regulations, your commute may take longer than usual.   

  • Be Aware of New Regulations and Rules   

Be aware of new rules and social distancing standards on vehicles aimed at keeping you safe when riding.    

  • Limit Nonessential Touching of the Vehicle  

Limit non-essential touching of handles, seatbacks, straps, etc., and keep hand sanitizer handy.  

Helpful Transit Apps + Tools 

DC Metro and Bus App: App Store or Google Play  

Fairfax Connector BusTracker  

OmniRide: App Store or Google Play  

VRE Mobile   

ART RealTime Arrivals   

DASH Mobile App  

SmarTrip Card Information   

Metro’s Recovery Plan

In addition to the Silver line reopening on August 16, WMATA will begin adding more Metrorail and Metrobus service and will increase hours of service, restoring service close to pre-pandemic levels. Metro will add more cars to service August 16, and Metrobus will expand its routes August 23.

Metrorail Service

Metrorail service will increase to 90% of pre-pandemic service, with morning service hours returning to normal. All Metrorail lines (other than Red line trains) will run every eight-minutes during weekday peak hours, and every 15 minutes during off-peak times. Red line trains will operate every 5 minutes during weekday peak hours and every 12 minutes during off-peak times.

Expanded Hours of Operation

Weekdays: 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Saturdays: 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Sundays: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Metrorail Stations Reopening

Wiehle-Reston East, Spring Hill, Greensboro, Tysons Corner, McLean, Wiehle-Reston East, Spring Hill, Greensboro, Tysons Corner, and West Falls Church

Parking

Paid parking at Metro stations will resume.

Metrobus Service

Beginning August 23, Metrobus will start running more frequent service, restoring approximately 75% of pre-pandemic service. Metro will continue loading passengers solely from the rear of the bus and will not have fare collection on-board.

Expanded Hours of Operation

4 a.m. – Midnight

After-Hours Ride-Hailing Program

To provide additional transportation support for late-night workers, WMATA is increasing its After-Hours Ride-Hailing Program subsidy from $3 to $6 per ride for on-demand transportation service during the hours when Metro’s services are closed. The program, known as the After-Hours Commuter Service, gives qualified workers a subsidy toward a Lyft ride for trips between their home and workplace between midnight and 4:00 a.m.

Learn more and apply on WMATA’s website.

Safety on Board

With bus and rail services increasing, WMATA will continue to prioritize safety on Metro cars and buses.

  • Face coverings are required for all employees and passengers
  • Metro plans to distribute free masks and hand sanitizer to customers
  • Daily cleaning of stations, railcars, and buses
  • Pilot UV light sterilization on escalator handrails

Click here to view WMATA’s complete phased recovery plan through 2021. As always, your Go West Alex team is here to help you get around! Please reach out to us if you have any questions, and be sure to join our closed Facebook group for more Metro updates.

Celebrating Fourth of July 2020

With many firework shows and celebrations canceled, and with recommendations to remain physically distant from others in place, Fourth of July looks a bit different this year. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that the holiday cannot resume with fun Fourth of July plans. We have some ideas for helping to make your Fourth of July 2020 still one to remember.  

  1. Watch Fireworks 

This one is a given. Even though you may not watch fireworks in person this year, many cities are streaming their firework and live music displays so that you can watch them right from your couch. Boston and Nashville, which have confirmed they are going forward with televised events that will include previously recorded material, as well as live performances. 

  1. Fourth of July Cocktails  

Holidays are the perfect time to try out a new cocktail recipe, especially if you will be home. This easy Fourth of July cocktail will be your new favorite drink—whether it’s the Fourth of July or not! And if you’re in the mood for a non-alcoholic cold, refreshing drink, we’ve got you covered with Red, White, and Blue Daquiris.  

  1. Patriotic Movie Night  

There is certainly no shortage of patriotic-themed movies. And just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you still can’t get your crew together and watch them. Netflix Party allows you to watch movies and shows with your friends by adding a group chat to your screening party.  

  1. Have a Picnic  

Celebrate Fourth of July 2020 al fresco with a picnic. From creating a Bar in a Jar to easy food storage tips, HGTV has all the picnic hacks you need for making your picnic a success.  

  1. Bake Patriotic Desserts 

You can’t celebrate the Fourth without some red, white, and blue! Ring in the holiday with these festive, sweet treats that the whole family will love.  

Meet the Team

Ashley Moses

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: My day to day life has changed a lot of the past few weeks of physical distancing! I do try to keep my schedule similar though, by waking-up, getting ready for the day, and beginning work by 7:30 a.m. I have found sticking to my morning routine is key when working from home.

Since my boyfriend is also working from home, he is using our office/guest room, and I’ve converted my kitchen table into my workspace for the time being (which is very interesting and has taken some time to get used to!).

After my workday, I try to tidy up my lovely kitchen table “work-space”, in attempt to separate my two worlds, work and home. I then like to get outdoors and go on either a walk or run, then come home and cook dinner. I like to round out my evening with reading or Netflix.

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute? What is your new morning and afternoon routine?

A: Morning:

I take my time getting ready for the day, instead of running out the door, which is a nice change. I like to sit down at my workspace, drink a smoothie, and enjoy a few minutes of quiet time planning out my day.

Afternoon:

Instead of my 25-minute afternoon commute, I take this time to get outside and go for a walk/run. Getting out of the house and out into the fresh air after my workday has made working and living at home 24/7 a bit more bearable!

Q: Who are your coworkers?

A: My coffee cup!

Lydia Shackelford  

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: I have had to give myself and my family the benefit of the doubt and understand that we are all doing our best under these circumstances. I have a 4 year old and 9 month old daughter, whose typical childcare provider is closed during these times. While I am still able to work remotely, working from home with kids comes with a lot of challenges. Thankfully, my husband and I have been able to designate times of the day where I can work, while he watches the kids, and then when he has to leave for work (as an essential employee), I take over on childcare. After bedtime for my kids, I’ll work for a little while longer before unwinding, as best as I can.

We try to get outside everyday, when the weather permits, to go for walks or simply spend some time outdoors. In fact, we have burned through two bubble machines and are working on the third now.

I have found that trying my best to stick to a routine, while understanding everyday will have its own set of challenges, has helped me a lot.

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute? What is your new morning and afternoon routine?

A: I try to keep my morning the same as before, as much as possible, just without the need to travel into the office. On a good day, I wake up, workout, and get ready for the day before either of my kids wake up. And instead of having to drop them off at daycare and drive into the office, I use that time to have a cup of coffee and hang out with my kids before starting my work for the day.

On the other hand, my afternoon routine has changed quite a bit. Since my husband was able to flex his schedule to work in the afternoon and evening, I am in full-time parent mode in the afternoons, including when I would typically be heading home for the day. So, instead of commuting, I’m usually crafting with my 4 year old for my afternoon commute.

Q: Who are your new coworkers?

A: Besides my two daughters, my husband of almost six years and our 14 year old dog, who we have had since we rescued him as just a puppy, round out my “other living being” coworkers. I am also surrounded by endless stuffed animals, baby dolls, and Barbies throughout the day. I would say our “home office” is at max capacity!

Linsey Burch

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: Currently, my day to day consist working remotely, in home workouts, starting a new skin care routine, and connecting with friends and family through Facetime.

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute? What is your new morning and afternoon routine?

A: I’ve replaced my 45-minute commute by catching a few more z’s, crafting the perfect cup of coffee, and staying active. I enjoy working remotely from the comfort of my own home. It’s allowing me to rest and reset my mind.

 Q: Who are your new coworkers?

 A: The different coffee mugs I use daily!

Courtney Menjivar

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: Groundhogs Day!

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute? What is your new morning and afternoon routine?

A: Routine hasn’t changed much other than I walk to my basement rather jumping in my car … I do miss my audible books that kept me company during my ride in to the office in the morning. I do miss the sun as well! The basement can be awfully bland. Oh and did I mention I took on a second or perhaps third job … teacher to my 5 and 7 year olds!

Q: Who are your new coworkers?

A: You mean, my two new students … Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the famous words of Dr. Seuss!

Amy Brokaw

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: My work day hasn’t changed much. I’ve worked from home for years. The big difference is no lunch-time Pilates classes or trips to the gym and no evening in-person happy hours.

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute? What is your new morning and afternoon routine?

A: I’m typically in my home-office around 8am and stop working around 4pm. The biggest difference lately is that video chats have replaced conference calls. So I comb my hair now while walking to my desk.

Q: Who are your new coworkers?

A: I recently opened an annex in the tree outside my office window. It’s an open floor plan and stocked with snacks, which has attracted a talented menagerie of sparrows, mourning doves, magpies, crows and squirrels. My long-term team, Daisy the Boxer and Luna the Husky, are still with me. Their attendance has been stellar.

Justin Schor

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: Although I’m sleeping in a little later because I don’t have to commute, I’m trying to keep my routine of exercising in the morning before I start work. When I’m not having lunch time Zoom calls, I’m now enjoying brief lunch engagements with my family that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do if at the office.

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute?

A: More sleep and a less hectic morning.  What is your new morning and afternoon routine? I drink one cup of Roma Nespresso and one cup of decaffeinated Ristretto Nespresso before 9:30 am every morning.  I used to just drink one cup of French Roast K-Cups at the office.

Q: Who are your new coworkers?

A: In addition to the Nespresso machine that is next to the kitchen table where I’ve set up my office, my new co-workers include the voices of numerous high school juniors and teachers on my daughter’s Zoom classroom calls in the room next door.

Camille Galdes

Q: What does your day to day look like under the Stay at Home orders and physical distancing?

A: I’m at home with two little ones whose preschool is closed: a 20 month old (Mark) and a 4 year old (Luke). We are playing “school” as much as possible—my 4 year old is wearing his school’s uniform shirts and mimicking his school schedule–while the younger one is running around and becoming more rambunctious with each passing day. So I’m part-teacher, part-mom, and part-researcher throughout the day (hint, hint: I get most of my work done at night). My husband is also working from home and we try to work around each other’s meetings. Luckily my 4 year old picked up an obsession with space just before the crisis, so we stocked up on space-themed puzzles and toys and have been slowly doling them out these past few weeks.

Q: How have you replaced your typical commute? What is your new morning and afternoon routine?

A: I actually worked from home on a regular basis prior to this crisis (without kids around) so luckily I’m used to that component of things and have a work space all set up. My husband’s commute has changed the most–he used to be out of the house very early ate breakfast at work, so one benefit of this situation is that we are actually able to have coffee together in the morning. In the afternoon, we spend way more time in the yard than we used to—thank goodness for the spring weather because it really helps combat the stir-craziness to see flowers blooming and birds flitting between the trees. We actually saw a bunny on Easter!

Q: Who are your new coworkers?

A: My new coworkers include 
1.         Senior Household Advisor (Chloe, our 12 year old English Bulldog)
2.         Chief Scientific Officer (Luke)
3.         Potty-Trainer-In-Chief (Mark)

Silver and Orange Line Shutdown Summer 2020

Last week, Metro announced that it would shut down all Silver Line stations in addition to the Orange Line stations that had previously planned trackwork for Summer 2020. Metro had already scheduled to close just three Orange Line Stations this summer, including Vienna, Dunn Loring, and East Falls Church Station for trackwork. But with low ridership due to COVID-19, Metro has now decided to close all stations west of Ballston. 

“This is about two things: working smarter and working safer,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. “Closing the stations to get the work done while ridership is historically low allows us to limit the exposure of our frontline staff and contractors, mitigate delays to our capital program, and minimize inconvenience to the public.” 

These additional shutdowns result in nine total Metro stations scheduled to close in Virginia beginning May 23, 2020, and lasting until or after Labor Day 2020. 

Metro’s Summer 2020 Plans at a Glance:  

  • Beginning Saturday, May 23: All stations west of Ballston on the Orange and Silver Lines will close. 
  • Orange Line Station closures: East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring, Vienna 
  •  Silver Line Station closures: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East 

Metro alternatives 

  • In an effort to ease the impact of the Silver and Orange Line shutdowns, Metro will run free shuttle buses every day that will operate during Metrorail’s regular hours.  
  • The free shuttles will run every ten minutes on weekdays (5 a.m. – 9 p.m.) and every fifteen minutes on weekends (8 a.m. – 9 p.m.)  

Shuttle 1: Orange Line service between Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, and Ballston. 

Shuttle 2: Orange Line express service between Vienna and Ballston. 

Shuttle 3: Silver Line service between Wiehle-Reston East, Spring Hill, Tysons Corner, and Ballston. 

Shuttles will not stop at East Falls Church, McLean, and Greensboro. 

Parking  

  • Metro plans to provide free parking at Vienna and Dunn Loring during the shutdown. 

If you have any questions or would like personalized commute assistance, please reach out to Go West Alex at info@gowestalex.com.

Six Productivity Hacks for Telework Week 2020

This week, March 2-6, we celebrate Telework Week in Virginia and DC. Teleworking can be incredibly convenient, as it cuts out commuting stress and costs, creates flexibility, and allows you to work without typical office distractions. Working from home has an abundant number of perks, but even the most focused teleworkers can get distracted at home.

For instance: the pile of clothes in your laundry basket, dirty dishes in the sink, the trash that needs to go out – your home can pull you in all directions, causing your productivity to suffer.

Whether you work from home every day or have the opportunity to enjoy Telework Week at home, we have six hacks for making Telework Week 2020 the most productive week of your year.

  1. Clear distractions before going to bed.

Waking up and being able to dive right into your work distraction-free is critical. Before you go to bed, put your dishes away, clear off your workspace, and if you’re a seasoned teleworker, get rid of what you know typically distracts from your workflow – after all, you know yourself best! And if you are an occasional teleworker, make a list of what distracts or bothers you, so that you can make the most of your telework days.

2. Get dressed as usual.

Get dressed as if you were heading into the office. While rolling out of bed and keeping your pajama pants on may be comfortable, your comfy clothes may cause you to feel like you are just hanging out at home, not working from home. Not only can getting dressed make you feel put together, but it can also help to boost your energy. Some teleworkers even report that putting their shoes on is a crucial step in getting dressed and feeling ready for the day when working at home. Always remember to dress for success, even at home!

3. Commute to your home office.

According to journalist Emily Price in her book Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More Work—That Actually Work!, leaving your house to take the dog on a walk or going to grab a cup of coffee in the mornings helps you to gain focus and get into work mode.

4. Designate a workspace.

Designate a specific area in your home as your workspace. This space should signal that it is ready to sit down and start working. Whether it be your kitchen table or an entire room, choose a distraction-free, comfortable spot. Natural light is also a plus.

5. Take a break.

Step away from your desk periodically to give your brain and body a refresh. We all need this, even during a workday in the office. Whether you take a walk around the block, drink a cup of coffee while flipping through a magazine, or enjoy lunch away from your workspace, these little breathers are essential.

6. Transition from office hours.

End the workday on an organized note. For many of us, disorganization often leads to unproductive days. End your workday by straightening up your desk, closing out your browsers, and getting prepared to start fresh tomorrow. Take a few minutes to close out your day. A little will go a long way when jumping back online. Here are some tips: jot down where you are leaving off, make a list with outstanding tasks, check your calendar for the next day, throw out any old papers or trash, and set any meetings or reminders.

Happy Telework Week, and we hope these tips help make your telework days productive. For additional resources and information on getting a telework program started for your company, visit Telework VA’s website.