Travel disruption and delays? Why letting your staff find a better commute is better for business

Jeni Tennison
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Even minor delays disrupt workers

Returning back to work on the first day post-Christmas will have been a return to travel disruption and delays for many commuters. But, even minor morning train delays can have a detrimental impact on the rest of the working day.

The knock-on effect of train punctuality (or lack of it) is apparent in recently published research from the Open Data Institute and startup Fasteroute.

Our research shows almost half of trains arriving into London during the morning rush – between 8:30am and 9am – are delayed, of which 28 per cent are delayed between one and 10 minutes.

Although short delays are classified as minor disruptions by rail operators, even these are disruptive to commuters who have to deal with the knock-on effects to their journey. Missed connections can ripple through a commuter’s journey, such that small initial delays lead to significant lateness.

Our analysis shows that on average, the duration of delays become longer throughout the morning. The odds of boarding a punctual train are higher the earlier you travel. The open data analysed in this research can also be used by the public in the Fasteroute Delay Explorer web application that allows people to choose the best train service based on the reliability of services on their individual commute.

Boarding an earlier train to avoid delays may sound relatively straightforward but not all commuters have the flexibility to travel when they wish.

Outside pressures such as catching connections, road traffic, rigid working hours and scheduled school runs can leave people with a limited selection of train services and routes to use. City planners are working hard to develop rail infrastructure for a growing population but businesses today can play a key part in reducing travel delays for staff.

More flexible starting times should benefit both the team and the organisation, enabling staff to:

  • Choose more efficient travel times that result in less wasted time during the day

  • Decide to travel on more reliable trains, allowing them to arrive at work in a better frame of mind and boosting productivity

  • Travel at times best suited to their schedule, such as enabling them to manage childcare, which attracts a more diverse workforce

At the ODI, we offer flexible working to staff for many reasons. Some team members live as far as Bath, Bristol and Birmingham, some are parents responsible for school runs, and many people choose to work in a focused environment outside of the office away from our main space.

Collaborative technologies allow us to work together and remain connected beyond the office. More companies should embrace these changes in working practices, which are supported by new technologies and informed by access to data.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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