How commute times impact productivity


I recently finished a project for a headquarters operation and one of the major discussion points was how relocating would impact commute times and employees

As part of the site selection process, I was tasked with a completing a commuting study to determine the impact relocation would have on the employee base. We looked at where employees lived, traffic patterns, and alternative travel options. Upon final analysis, management determined that relocation was not in the best interest of the organization.

Relocating outside of the current geographic area may have promised a fresh start, but the cost to current employees would have been too great.

The management team’s instincts are backed up by research I saw a few years back.

From the HBR Daily Stat Blog“Workers with a 50 kilometer one-way commute can be expected to miss 15% more days from work, on average, than their colleagues who commute 10 kilometers[…]Commuting distance is usually assumed to affect only employees, not businesses, but the study shows that it also has a strong impact on absenteeism, the researchers say.”

From NPR “if you can cut an hour-long commute each way out of your life, it’s the [happiness] equivalent of making up an extra $40,000 a year if you’re at the $50- to $60,000 level.” 

Conducting a travel study can help understand where your employees are coming from, and what location will minimize commuting impacts across the employee base. A lease is a long-term commitment and mistakes during the site selection process can linger for years. Conversely, a site that is convenient for many employees may boost retention and loyalty, extending the tenure of star producers.

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