Roddy Graham's Blog: 29 October 2008 - It's not about 'presenteeism', it's about employee output
29 October 2008
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Great news - commuting times for those spending more than hour going to and from work have fallen for the first time in a decade.
According to the TUC, they dropped 1% between 2006 and 2007. And this has nothing to do with the recent credit crunch.
As one of the hardest working nations in Europe, we are also among the longest commuters so any reduction in time spent going to and from work has to be welcomed. Apparently, the fall can be partly attributed to the introduction of more flexible working patterns. Unfortunately, it seems that at least one in five workers spends more than an hour commuting and the average commuting time is still too high at 54 minutes. The biggest reduction was seen in London, with those commuting more than one hour in the capital dropping from 47% to 40%.
Flexible working is not only good for the individual in terms of helping create a better work/life balance but also is good for the environment and the employer. The employee travels less time, which has to be green, and, given greater flexibility by his employer, is a more productive employee in return.
If more employees were encouraged to work from home from time to time, then there would be less congestion on our roads, less commuters fighting for seats on public transport, all assisting in reducing frayed tempers and contributing to a greener environment. Again, organisations need to grasp the fact that we need to drive out the culture of 'presenteeism' and focus on employee output. Part of a top manager's skills is in ensuring they gain maximum productivity from their employees.
Rounding off this blog, I couldn't help but reflect yesterday on this topsy-turvy world. In the early 90s, Porsche was on its knees. Yesterday, for a brief while, it was the biggest company in the world based on market capitalisation, bigger than any other car maker or even Microsoft. The good thing about its 74.1% stake in Volkswagen, the third largest automotive manufacturer in the world, is that it might bring to an end the insidious practice of short-selling by hedge funds. Several of these are now on their knees following betting on a sharp fall in VW shares. Instead these closed yesterday at 520 Euros, resulting in a market capitalisation of 153bn Euros, more than all the US and European automotive manufacturers combined! No doubt, following this morning's announcement, Porsche will make another killing in selling 5% of its shares in VW to ease the situation for some hedge funds. Let's hope the latter don't get off too lightly. The sooner the practice is stamped all together, the better in my view.