This got me thinking, why are employees willing to travel so far to work? Are there fewer jobs available, or are people choosing to live out of London? If they are choosing to live further out, is it because property is cheaper, or is it a lifestyle decision? Is the cost of commuting off-set against cheaper housing outside of London and higher salaries within London?
Whatever the reasons, the reality is most people no longer live within walking distance of work, this has implications for both employers and employees.
What do commuting employees do during their journey? If by car, the time could be used for thinking, planning and organising. Hands-free technology means phone calls are possible, but must be done safely. Companies are increasingly worried about employees using phones in the car, even if hands-free. The risk of corporate manslaughter charges being brought against Company Directors if an employee on a business call has an accident is increasingly real. More of our clients are asking for policies which ban the use of phones while driving both personal and company cars.
So what about the train? Providing a seat is available, employees could catch up on reading, journals, legal documents, presentations etc., peace and quiet for drafting documents, checking emails and planning. Care must be taken and due respect given to privacy when working in a public space. Commuters have been known to leave laptops, top secret papers etc. on a train. Who is in the next seat, who do they work for and what value may your papers have to them! Phone calls on a train or public place may also expose your business to risk. Very often phone calls can be heard throughout the carriage and while stories of your fellow travellers social life may be amusing, someone could benefit from overhearing confidential company information. Working on the train may have its advantages, but care should be taken!
Employers, recruiting someone who lives two hours away need to consider the implications. An advantage may be they work on their journey, but travelling four hours a day may result in exhaustion and no social life as long days take their toll. Employees may be less flexible about working late, two trains per hour may mean they do not want to stay and finish something vital.
There are children who only see their father or mother at weekends, gone by the time they wake up and asleep by the time they come home. Increasingly, this is not what families want, but many are prepared to accept it while securing jobs closer to home is increasingly difficult to do.