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How to skip the £5k commuting club with technology

So we have waved goodbye to 2017 and welcomed 2018 in the last few days (depending on when you’re reading this it might be weeks). For many of us it’s a new year with new opportunities and possibilities. For many though, it has seen the increase of our commutes to work, (BBC article). If you’re a commuter who needs to travel to London, for example, by train, the media is making a thing about being a member of the £5k commuting club with the inflation rise in the ticket prices.

Whilst I agree the cost for commuting staff is a lot, businesses have the ability to actually reduce the time staff spend travelling to the offices. For example, £5,000 is a lot for a train to work, but add to that parking (£12 per day at my station of choice) and the 2/3 hours on the train every day, the cost to an individual is substantial. So much so that many are considering whether commuting is for them and maybe looking for alternative employment opportunities closer to home (BBC article).

One person in the above story stating:

"I have said to my boss that when my fare hits £5,000 I will be looking for a new job," says Alistair, a recruiter, whose ticket to London currently costs £4,094 a year.” – BBC News

TSG’s London-based team, who work with customers to deliver IT solutions including Office 365, ERP solutions and IT support often commute to our office in the capital. However, with the use of collaboration tools and applications based in the cloud our workforce can work remotely from any location without losing any momentum.

The technology is now available for many to telecommute to the office. I am probably more connected to my colleagues around the UK when I am sitting in my home office than if I am in my local office. I am accessible via our phone system and increasingly, available for face to face conversations and collaboration via Microsoft’s Teams.

But the key for me is the “work-life” balance. When I used to commute to Birmingham, it could be anything from an hour to 2 hours of my life looking at the brake lights of the car in front of me. Instead, now, when I am not out seeing customers, my commute can be two minutes and include getting a coffee. What that means is more time actually working (I don’t get traffic jams on the stairs that often) and I am able to focus all day, without worrying about the commute home.

So how do we do this? Well as mentioned above, through the use of technology like hosted telephony solution Gamma Horizon and Microsoft Teams, I am available to everyone internally within TSG and externally to our customers. If a customer rings me directly with a question, but it needs support for example, I can easily transfer them into our IT support team based in the North East (TSG Team Valley office) and Scotland (our Bellshill office), all from my desk in the Midlands.

One of the perks at working at TSG is having the ability to switch off and be at home with the family without the stress of traffic/trains within a minute of switching off. It means I get to spend that time with my children as opposed to the radio for company. The cost of that to TSG is:

- A good mobile phone contract

- A flexible unified communications platform

- Decent communications infrastructure to access the systems

- My Office 365 subscription

Now reading that, many businesses will already have that, so actually implementing these changes is more of a cultural shift, rather than huge capital costs. The business still has visibility of my work day, be this through call stats, call recordings or my interaction with Office 365 and our CRM systems. Even support staff have the flexibility to tele-commute.

So when considering the £5,000 cost of an annual travel pass and whether it is worth it or should I be looking for another job, businesses should be looking at how they can reduce the burden on staff who travel by offering such things as telecommuting a few times a week. There is always a need for interaction with other members of staff/team, but this doesn’t need to be every day for everybody.

So rather than lose great staff to the commute and cost, maybe as businesses we should look at how to improve their commute and working experience. Every day, myself and colleagues are talking to businesses throughout the UK (this isn’t only a London issue) on how we have the tools ready to provide these services to staff, it’s about unlocking the functionality and making it work for your business.

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