Working at home 'traffic jam solution'

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2014
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Canterbury bosses should consider letting their staff work more flexible hours, including days at home, as a way of relieving congestion on choked roads, a leading business figure says.

Peak-hour gridlock, especially north of Christchurch, has prompted a paper to today's Waimakariri District Council meeting that discusses traffic volumes.

The concept of businesses adopting more flexible working hours for staff or, in some cases, working from home, has been raised and encouraged by both the council's chief executive, Jim Palmer, and Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend.

The council paper said congestion and traffic delays were of "significant council and community concern".

Although there were some short-term improvements, including widening of off-ramp roads and a possible bus lane from Kainga to Belfast, Palmer said "serious" longer-term solutions were at least three years away.

Townsend said about 70 per cent of his staff had "flexible work practices" and although it was easier for some businesses than others, the idea should be explored by more.

Palmer said the rollout of ultra-fast broadband meant it would become easier for businesses to have staff work from home more often, helping lessen congestion on the roads.

Congestion caused "great stress and concern" for motorists, especially those travelling from Waimakariri district into Christchurch. Many were forced to leave much earlier than normal and still faced a long, slow drive to and from work. Palmer had heard of people working from home from 7.30am until 9am before travelling to work so they avoided peak congestion times.

Townsend said the Canterbury earthquakes showed productivity did not suffer if some staff worked from home and he encouraged more employers to consider it.

"In the context of traffic congestion, it's a good idea to be as flexible as possible. It's silly we all clog up the roads between eight and nine in the morning when someone can either come in early or start later."

Townsend said it was not just workers taking up space on clogged roads. Daily school runs by parents were another factor.

BY THE NUMBERS

Key traffic numbers in Waimakariri:

$400 million: The approximate amount of money tagged for motorway and district roads in North Canterbury over the next few years.

25 per cent: The growth in traffic on the Waimakariri-Christchurch route over the last seven years.

45,000: Peak daily traffic counts at Waimakariri Bridge.

1250: The number of residential sections expected to come on the market over the next two years.

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41.55: The percentage of the district's workforce travelling into Christchurch.

42,000: Peak predicted vehicle numbers on Main North Road if the northern arterial is not built (up 7000).

5-10 minutes: Expected drop in peak travel times when Western Belfast bypass is built by about 2018. 

- The Press

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