Staff Lifestyle Balance Boosts Productivity


Cardiff Central (Small)

A steadily increasing number of Hunter industrial and commercial enterprises are starting to realise the real bottom line benefits of relocating their businesses close to their  employees.

One of the regions largest specialist designers and builders of industrial complexes, ATB Morton, says relocation with a view to reducing the necessity for employees to commute to work is steadily becoming a very real option.

ATB Morton complete 30-40 projects a year ranging from $30,000 to $30m and has clients from Newcastle to Mount Isa. Director Allan Morton said that there is an increasing acknowledgment of the advantages of eliminating the amount of time employees have to spend commuting to and from work.

“We’re finding a lot of businesses from Singleton and Muswellbrook are now starting to  think about moving back down towards Newcastle where their employees come from,”  Allan said.  Lake Macquarie City Council’s Business Development Manager, Graeme  Hooper, is seeing a similar trend, fielding inquiries from businesses looking to enjoy the  advantages of a workplace that is not only close to residential neighbourhoods but also to  recreational amenities.

He believes that the Lake’s new suburb of Bunderra, which stretches from Cardiff to Boolaroo, will be seen as the answer by many businesses and points to the first stage,  Cardiff Central as a prime opportunity.

Graeme said he was seeing a lot of companies that no longer believed it is necessary to be located close to mining, preferring instead to give their employees the lifestyle options that come with living within 10 minutes or their workplace.

Anyone who is forced to commute between Lake Macquarie and the coal fields has  witnessed a massive growth in traffic numbers and ever increasing trip times, time that is  a very real drain on the available leisure and family time of the workers forced to make the  journey.

In fact, these commuters spend more time on the road in a year than they do on holidays –  some 360 hours or 45 working days.

A recent study by the VU University in the Netherlands has gone the way to quantifying the savings to employers who relocate their business closer to their employees, putting the reduction in absenteeism alone at 16%.

“On average, absenteeism would be about 16% less if all workers would have a negligible commute,” the report said.

It was found that a longer commuting time induced workers to arrive late at work, or leave earlier, which reduces productivity.

Companies may also find they can enjoy wage benefits. There is a growing field of research that more and more employees are prepared to take a work/life balance trade off,  accepting lower wages for the benefits of less commuting and a better lifestyle.

One survey of 5000 concluded that a remarkable 78% of Australians believe having a healthy work/life balance is more important to them now than it was six months previously.

The Director of Commercial and Industrial for Raine & Horne Newcastle, Steve Dick, said that some of the first sales within the new Cardiff Central release were made to companies that had already realised the advantages of a workplace on a transport hub and within a  bike ride of housing and the Lake.

Alan Tonks
Commercial/Industrial Specialist

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