Procurement · 15 January 2016

Need a new office? Consider the commute

commuting to work
If the office is too far away from the station, even reasonable fares and short journeys can lose their appeal

So you’ve found the perfect new working space at a great price – but how will your employees be commuting to work?

The hashtag #commutingproblems is one popular on Twitter for a reason: getting to work can cost time, money and stress. In an ideal world, you’d cut down on all three when moving to a new office.

Researching the transport issues associated with a prospective office should be a priority once you’ve identified potential spaces – how everyone gets to a building is arguably as important as the building itself. Below are the factors worth taking into account, and a few possible solutions:

Money money money

Travelling by train, car, or bus (or a mixture of all three) can result in significant expenditure. The price of petrol may be the lowest it’s been since August 2009, but daily drives soon mount up. There’s also the cost of parking to consider. If the site you’re considering doesn’t have a staff car park or has one which isn’t free, the costs to employees could be considerable. One way around this is setting up a car share, which can help save such costs – and the planet.

Similarly, regularly catching trains or buses can also amount to a lot of money. Rail fares are particularly expensive, making railcards a worthwhile investment. Do bear in mind the cost for clients and customers too. If you’re moving out of the city, what is saved in rent could potentially be spent helping reimburse travel costs – make sure you weigh up the two.

Time after time

Another important consideration is how long journeys will take. When a two hour commute isn’t uncommon, it might seem like UK workers accept the inevitability of lengthy commutes. However, that’s not to say they don’t have an impact. Generally, the longer the commute, the worse the negative side effects, such as increased anxiety. In an era when workplace wellness is a top priority, this bears thinking about.

Lengthy and difficult commutes can be a real drag on productivity too; you don’t want to waste valuable time travelling. Introducing flexible working hours can help improve time-efficiency issues associated with commuting but can’t provide a solution to all the problems.

Try to find out where the majority of clients and employees are based before making the move. It’ll give you an idea of how much travelling would not only add to the working day, but take from it as well.

There’s more…

Time and money are the two major concerns when it comes to transport issues, but to cover all bases, here are a few final considerations:

  • If the office is too far away from the carpark or train/bus station, even reasonable fares and short journeys can lose their appeal
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of being close to local amenities. You don’t want to find out there’s nowhere nearby when you forget your lunch
  • While a car share can come in handy, if you’re looking to expand, a sufficient amount of car parking spaces is almost always a must
  • Don’t forget the cyclists. They’ll also need a home for their bike – and maybe a shower too! Depending on how close to work everyone lives, signing up for Cyclescheme – which will save your employees money on bikes and allow them to pay for them in instalments –  could be a good idea

To some extent, transport issues are inevitable, but preparation is key to minimising their effect. Much like travelling to work, an office move takes time, money, and effort – though you’ll be thankful when things in the new workplace are going smoothly, and commutes are as well.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Peter Ames is the head of strategy for Office Genie, the first desk space marketplace in the UK – under the umbrella of Genie Ventures (a digital marketing and e-commerce company). The site is responsible for letting out millions of pounds worth of space to the country's small businesses and freelancers.

Business development