In a time where well-being and work/life balance are of increasing importance, travel time from and to work keeps getting a greater annoyance for the employee. So big even, that it can not only cause unsatisfied and unproductive employees, but even cause them to leave your organisation. What can you do to prevent this? In this blog, we give four tips to alleviate travel discomfort for your employees to improve staff retention and how the digital workspace can help you with this.
Travel time is an increasingly important factor, especially for people with young children. 64 percent of Dutch people researches the expected travel time when orientating on a new job, according to the Woon-Werkmonitor 2018 by Easy Way. Moreover, one in three Dutch people has passed up a dream job because they found the travel time too long. On the other side of this, there are many employers losing their (potential) dream employee, purely based on their location. A waste, though it seems like we’ll see more of this happening. It is expected that the travel time will only increase in the coming years. The Kennisinstituut voor Mobiliteitsbeleid (Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy) even expects a travel delay of 35% in 2023 compared to 2017, due to the increasing traffic combined with a limited expansion of the road capacity.
Not only are travel times increasingly responsible for your employees leaving you, it also has a negative effect on the ones who stay. Long travel times cause the employee to be less motivated and productive. Also, many people believe travel time to be work time; only 23 percent feels compelled to work longer, when they were delayed in the morning by for example a faulty train or a traffic jam. This results in a lot of lost time and unhappy employees in the long term. British research even shows that people with a longer travel time to work have a higher change of depression, financial worries, stress, sleep deprivation and obesity.
This all sounds as if as an employer, you’re doomed to lose employees who don’t live in the same area as your business is located. However, there are a few things you could do to make the commute more pleasant for your employees or to alleviate their travel discomfort.
4 tips to alleviate or resolve travel discomfort
Compensate travel costs
A simple but effective solution is to reimburse employees for their travel costs. Luckily, in the Netherlands, this already seems the standard, so if you already do this you can just skip this one. However, if you don’t, it’s definitely something to consider doing. After all, a long daily commute is less of a nuisance if you don’t also have to pay for it yourself. It also shows your employees that you consider their situation.
Avoid rush hour with flexible hours
Sometimes it’s not the distance which causes a long commute, but the other commuters. Overcrowded trains and buses and endless traffic jams can transform a short distance into a long journey around rush hour. A simple solution for this would be to commute outside of rush hour. Unfortunately, many employees are still dealing with set office hours – even when this isn’t necessary. So if the work activities allow it, why not allow an employee to work outside of traditional office hours? Additionally, this will help to cut costs, for example with transportation tickets at reduced cost during off-peak hours.
No travel time when working from home
Taking flexible work one step further: let employees work from home for one or multiple days, for instance on the days when rush hours are at their worst. Going through the morning peak isn’t as bad if you don’t need to do it every day. Moreover, many employees turn out to be a lot more productive when they’re allowed to work from home. Research by Intermediair showed that over two-thirds of the respondents is more productive when working from home. Which of course is easy to do with the right tools, such as a digital workspace like Workspace 365, communication tools like Yammer and Microsoft Teams and naturally, a good policy and clear agreements. Many managers are hesitant towards a work from home policy, however trust is very important here. That’s why clear agreements are so important: it gives a way to find out if working from home is really effective.
Out of traffic – to work (Uit de file – aan het werk)
The traffic congestion in the Netherlands is increasing in more and more regions. In the first six months of 2019, the hindrance of traffic has increased by 5% – a large increase in a short period of time. While if every Dutch person whose work allows it can make a difference in this.
That is why Workspace 365 supports the initiative “Uit de file – Aan het werk” (out of the traffic jam, to work) by HP van Tilburg and Richard Bordes. The goal of this initiative is to make sure that people choose a digital solution as an alternative for physical mobility more often. Because if everyone would stay out of their car one day of the week, the congestion problem in the Netherlands would largely be solved. On November 12th 2019, they are organising the Uit de File Aan het Werk Day, which encourages people to don’t use the car during peak hours, or not at all. Join this initiative and read more about it here.
Bike-sharing subscriptions and business bikes
Riding a bike is good for you – or at least better than riding a car or taking the train – that’s commonly known. It however doesn’t offer an option to reduce travel time (in fact, with a long distance it will probably only increase), but it can make part of your trip more enjoyable (and it also has other benefits, which we’ll get back to later). For example the distance between the train station and the office. Nowadays there are more and more options to rent a bike, without an employee having to buy one. For example with the OV-bike (public transportation bike). You could also finance (part of) a bike for the employee within the Expense Allowance Scheme (NL). The advantages of this are not only that it’s good for their health, but it also reduces stress and leads to less absenteeism. It’s also a nice change from traffic jams and overcrowded public transportation.
If an employee really wants to work closer to home, you can’t stop them. You can, however, make it more appealing to stay and try to alleviate their discomfort concerning commuting. A few minor changes could make a big difference.