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New ways of working need new ways of thinking

Tom Chapman

Everyone has a terrible commuting story. Perhaps the train broke down and they were stuck at a station. Alternatively, traffic jams meant spending the morning sitting in a car. Still, even in the best-case scenarios, commutes take time, energy, and frequently cause stress. Article by Tom Chapman for Peninsula.

The longer the commute, the more negative effects occur. A study of 34,000 employees revealed individuals with the longest journeys to and from work suffered from worse morale, productivity, and mental health than other colleagues.

Despite this, UK motorists living in cities spent more than a combined 24 hours sitting in rush hour traffic during 2017. Those living in London had it much worse, losing an average of 74 hours to traffic congestion.

In fact, the Office for National Statistics estimates 3.7 million UK workers commute for more than two hours every day. Clearly, commuting is a problem – but should you do anything about it? If you want to get the most out of your employees, you might want to consider it.

Why paying for a commute isn’t the answer
Unless if it’s specifically specified in an employee’s contract, they shouldn’t get paid for commuting to and from work. The only exception is travelling during work hours. For example, to a client meeting. Yet, even if a staff member was paid for their commute, he or she would still suffer from the negative effects of the journey. Instead, it’s logical to make the commute far more bearable. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to do this:

How can I support my employee’s commute? Implement flexible working hours
Unless if the nature of your business specifically requires it, it seems unlikely employees have to always work between 9.00 and 17.00. Instead, so long as they work for their contracted amount of time, why not let them pick their own hours?

For example, those who want to work between 7.00 and 15.00 would have far fewer commuters to contend with. Alternatively, those choosing to come in later would experience the same effect. As a result, commutes should become far more bearable. Staff would also experience the additional benefit of feeling more in control of their work lives.

Allow a work from home policy
If an employee’s commute is particularly bad, consider allowing them to work certain days from home. However, this can potentially be a double-edged sword.

Some staff members are suited to home working but others can suffer from lost productivity and morale from not being in an office environment. Therefore, a work from home policy should initially be implemented on a trial basis. Furthermore, those participating must understand when they should be available to minimise disruption to other colleagues.

Implement a severe weather policy
Severe weather is one of the main reasons why employees are late to work. Snow, rain, or heavy winds, the UK is not short of hazardous weather systems. Furthermore, these have the potential to make a commute much worse.

Consequently, implementing a severe weather policy could help minimise disruption to businesses while also setting the minds of your employees at ease. After all, no one wants to think they will be punished because of a freak snowstorm. This policy could allow staff members to work from home or allow for shorter days providing the hours are met later.

Implement a cycle-to-work scheme
For employees who drive but live nearby, commuting by bicycle is an option. These tend to be faster than vehicles during the rush hour and – as an added incentive – carry a range of health benefits. As a result, numerous businesses are signing up to cycle to work schemes so employees can gain affordable access to bikes. Of course, if additional motivation is required, consider setting up incentives to those individuals who leave their cars in favour of cycling.

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