South Africans spend an hour each day commuting. A new survey by workspace solutions provider Regus shows that the average one-way commute in South Africa is 29 minutes, while one-quarter of workers commute for more than 45 minutes each way.
Therese Meyer, commercial director of Regus Africa, says the result of this is that South Africa workers are arriving at work exhausted and stressed out, unable to give their best to their job or their colleagues.
“So why do we do it? Do we really need to write off five hours a week, in order to commute at peak times to faraway offices?” she asks.
While many workers don’t have a choice – they have to be in certain places at certain times – many office workers could work differently. “It’s just that they or their employers are stuck in a time warp where pens, ledgers and paper-based filing systems necessitated centralised working.
“Technology – laptops, wireless, cloud computing – means that’s no longer the case. Most people could do large parts of their job at home, on the move, or at smaller offices nearer to where they live. So what’s standing in their way?”
The first stumbling block is that come people prefer to work in an office environment – they’d just like to spend less time getting there.
“There are easy solutions to this – letting staff avoid peak commuting hours, or work at third spaces close to home, such as business centres, enables them to retain the aspects of office life that they like, but with lower levels of commuting stress.”
The second issue is trust: although more than 80% of South African companies offer flexible working, 48% of them restrict it to senior staff.
“Extending flexible working to all employees may require businesses to re-examine their management practices – for example, how they motivate, incentivise, and supervise staff when they’re working at different times and places,” says Meyer.
“But the benefits of introducing flexible working practices are potentially huge: they include greater productivity, motivation and work-life balance, and lower costs. Surely these potential benefits justify a review of your management practices?”