Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Staggered Work Starting Times - Efficiency Provider or Fallacy?

There was some talk on the radio recently about charging Sydneysiders lower amounts to use toll roads if they started work earlier. Peak hour traffic in Sydney must be approaching two to three hours as it is. Apparently, if five percent of the working population started half an hour or an hour earlier than is the norm, the peak hour congestion would all but disappear. Wonderful thought, eh?

I read recently some study into housing affordability, which was pretty dismal in Australia, that the commute time to the suburbs in New York, which has six times the area as Sydney, was about the same. It shows that our urban planners have got it seriously wrong. Perhaps that is a throwback to the acre block that everyone wants to live on in this country.

In theory, the staggered start times would provide a boost to the economy. Less driving time, less petrol usage, more time to play with kids/family time, less stressed once you arrive at work, etc. I can see certain benefits. People do require incentives to change habits. Most of my work is situated on the other side of the country so I'm able to start earlier and leave earlier without disrupting what I do. That suits me fine. People working in shops don't have that sort of flexibility.

In practice we are fairly rigid with our working hours. The major issue with staggered starting times is that people like to talk. If I start at a certain time, Joe Bloggs comes in half an hour later and we find ourselves talking for 10 minutes, followed by Fred Nerk 20 minutes after that and we have a natter, etc. You can see that all that time gained has effectively been lost.

Take parking itself, being very much time-regulated, which would have to change from the limitations placed on 8am-6pm parking to take into consideration the early starters. It's difficult to quantify the benefits of somebody requiring that parking space at an earlier time than is deemed normal. Town planners might have a fit.

Oil companies would generally be opposed to staggered starts. They seem to oppose any initiative that will cost them income. I'd like to know what the figures are for petrol wastage due to traffic jams.

There'd be an uproar from the daylight savings followers as there would be no need for daylights savings. People would be starting work, and finishing, when it suited them. I foresee some opposition from this section of the community.

Perhaps allies would be found in those that enjoy a siesta. Start an hour early, take three hours off at lunch time for a nap, and go home an hour later than normal. And get charged less for the privilege.

Maybe this subject requires more research. Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great ideas. An hour nap a day between work increases productivity. They should start earlier to prevent more congestion. Something needs to be done about wasting of oil products. The polar bear is going to become extinct and global warming will become worse. Inflation is crazy allover.
Have a great week and keep up the good work Hammy. Annette