PartTimer | Commute distance. Does it really matter?

Commute distance. Does it really matter?

Apr 26 2017

The distance to commute may not always be the first thing one considers when either hiring or applying for a job. In fact, employers will often completely ignore the commute distance of a potential candidate in order to find someone that’s ‘really good’. Likewise, jobseekers will more often than not accept the first job that comes their way, because after all, a job is a job, right? When in desperation it really is easy to forget that actually, things such as the commute distance can have a myriad of subsequent effects once reality kicks in and we’re actually required to do the job, or have actually just hired that person who lives a million miles away. Luckily for you, you won’t ever have to fall into this trap again. Why should you care? Here’s why.

If you’re an employer:

Why should you hire someone who lives close to your business? Does it matter? Isn’t there more important criteria to consider? Well, imagine you could hire exceptional workers who lived in the apartment block next to your business. You’d hire them straight away, right? I’ll make a bold assumption and say the answer is yes, because nearly every employer has faced problems stemming from their workers living too far away. It may be that your employees have a limited set of hours they can do because of bus or train timetables. Or perhaps you have the sort of business where you’re suddenly fully booked and in urgent need of extra hands, but nobody lives close enough to actually make it there when you need them. Maybe, just maybe, you’re sick of hearing excuses for being late such as ‘I missed the bus and it’s too far to walk’, or ‘I couldn’t find a park anywhere’. Whatever it is, having an employee that lives close to work has many advantages and little disadvantages. Here’s 5 of my favourites:

  1. Employees who live close to your business can come at short notice if you are busy and understaffed.
  2. They don’t have a good excuse for being late, so they usually aren’t. And, on the rare occasion that they are, they won’t make up a story about the terrible morning traffic.
  3. They’re more enthused to come to work because their ‘work hours’ don’t include two hours of travel time.
  4. They were probably once regular customers, or at least familiar with your business because they live nearby.
  5. An employee who doesn’t have to commute will always be the one who volunteers for extra shifts (and you can bet that it was the staff member who lived a million miles away who needed someone to cover their shift).

The move for non-commuting employees is happening all around the world. Large airline catering company, Gate Gourmet, recently changed their hiring criteria to focus on commute times. With this new criteria, and taking into account commute time, they lowered staff turnover by 27%.

In essence, workers that live close by will always feel like they have a better work-life balance, and will be more reliable for you in the long run. Not yet convinced? Well, if you won’t do it for you, do it for them. Here are some of the benefits your staff will experience.

If you’re an employee/jobseeker:

As an employee, it’s easy to spend a lot of time and money simply getting to and from your job. And the worst part? Most of us don’t even realise how much we’re wasting. To give you an example, let’s say you work a four-hour shift and have to spend money on public transport, or any of the endless things associated with owning your own vehicle. By the time you’ve left and come home again, you’ll already have spent around a quarter of the wages you earned just on commuting. Not to mention once you factor in the other associated costs such as tax and that $4.90 sub of the day you had to buy because you didn’t have time to make your lunch in the morning, you really don’t come home with much in your pocket at all. Daylight robbery you say?! Well, we have to agree with you, but luckily it doesn’t have to be like this. Yep, you guessed it - getting a job close to home will significantly increase the amount of money you take home at the end of the day.

So turning that around, what would it look like to get a job close to home?

  1. You wouldn’t spend $5.00 on lunch every day, because you could simply head home for fifteen minutes on your lunch break. 

  2. You wouldn’t need a car to get to and from work. You could actually start walking to work, meaning you’d be exercising at the same time (bonus!). 

  3. You wouldn’t have to pay for parking, train passes, or endure long and frustrating bus rides sitting next to annoying strangers. 

  4. If your work is closer it’d then be much more realistic to take up extra shifts when someone can’t make it. 

All in all, it’s clear that considering the commute distance when either hiring or looking for a job is a must. The number of hidden flow-on effects for both employers and jobseekers is huge, with many of these being detrimental to the overall success of an employee in the long run. So, whether you’re looking for a new job, or approaching time to hire, make sure you look close to home first. Who knows... your perfect job offer or employee may be just around the corner!

- CR