A decongestant for traffic? It’s staggering, but it just might work.

Wednesday, 27 July, 2016

Traffic congestion – especially in our bigger cities – is costing our economy millions of dollars each year.

It not only stresses the minds of everyone confronted by inexplicable delays and the stultifying stop-start pace of traffic, but it also has a negative impact on the economy. It’s not unusual to see drivers expressing their impatience – even blind rage – as early as 7.00 am. If that’s the state of mind they’re taking to work, what will be their mental state at the end of the day?

So what is the antidote?  How can we decongest our roads and positively impact our workers and the economy they help create?

One simple solution could be flexible working hours.

Think about it – fixed working hours are the product of a bygone era – before remote computing and mobile communications. Yet the ‘9 to 5’ routine remains the staple for the vast majority of workers.

If we changed to a system where a percentage of those workers started and finished at staggered times across the day, a number of benefits could follow.

But this is just one simple change our contemporary workforce could soon have thrust upon them. Other more significant changes are looming.

A number of major corporations are realising that providing a work space for each employee is both unnecessary and expensive. With so many of their staffers either ‘on the road’ or more importantly, capable of working efficiently and effectively from home on any given day, employers are afforded the opportunity to cut back on work spaces. Some employers don’t provide them at all!

To extend this trend further, in a recent White Paper titled ‘Tomorrow’s Insurance Workforce’, Suncorp Commercial Insurances’ head of Human Resources made some challenging predictions.

She postulated that in the near future, many employees will no longer choose to work for a single company, but will instead ‘freelance’ for two, three or more employers. Others will opt for permanent part time employment only.

Their ‘jobs’ could be located anywhere around the world and their hours will be determined by demand rather than the ‘bundy clock’. Contemporary communications will make it all possible. Employers will be attracted by the wider talent pool this new regimen makes available to them as well as the economies and flexibility this arrangement provides.

These looming employment probabilities will certainly have a positive impact on our crowded roads and much more. These changes will tend to de-centralise our cities’ traditional CBDs over time.

If the predictions contained in the Suncorp White Paper come to fruition, a transformed approach to working hours, work places and work practices will create a totally new employment environment for all of us.

And by the way, it could ease our traffic congestion once and for all.