Minimising the risk of commuter disruption to your SME business

Tuesday June 28, 2022

SMEs looking to phase out hybrid or remote working face new challenges in bringing employees back to work when the daily commute gets disrupted.

Workers who rely on public transport to commute can experience severe delays during strikes or planned works. Planning ahead can help to minimise the disruption to your business, and you may be able to make alternative arrangements with staff who are going to find it difficult making it to work on time.

What happens when staff can’t get to work?

Last week we looked at what your options are when an employee is stuck abroad due to air travel disruptions. This week it’s a little closer to home and you have the advantage of notice on your side.

It’s important to know how your employees get to work so that you can plan accordingly. Speak to those who rely on public transport to commute and see what alternative arrangements can be made in the event of planned disruptions.

For example, could they temporarily carpool with a co-worker who lives nearby? Or, if only one or two team members will be affected and you need them to attend the workplace, could you justify arranging taxis?

Flexi-hours, allowing the employee to travel outside of rush hour may also help. When asking them to make time back, keep in mind they may have spent a lot of time trying to make it to work.

If you can facilitate home working, this might be the most sensible option. If it’s something that you are trying to phase out, simply communicate that this is a short-term arrangement and work will resume as normal once the strikes are over. As the strikes start next week, you have a few days to make sure that these employees have what they need to work from home e.g. laptops etc.

What if remote working isn’t an option?

We understand that not all businesses can allow remote working, and in the absence of furlough, what are your options here?

You could ask employees if they would like to use their holiday during this time or consider offering them unpaid leave. You can insist that they take unused holiday but only if you provide them with enough notice. Legally that’s two days’ notice for every day that you want them to take.

For staffing your business during planned absences, do you have other staff that would be able to cover? Whether it’s a shift swap or overtime?

Reducing the risk of stress caused by delays

A nightmare of a commute can really impact a person’s day, and that can be said even without strikes and delays.

Is the employee that walks to work experiencing the same stresses as the one that deals with persistent train delays? Or the parent who leaves earlier to drop off their kids on the way, only to be faced with traffic jams and a double delay?

The key to supporting your team through travel disruption is to be understanding of both the situation and each individual’s personal circumstance within it. Planning will help both your business and your team. If you have HR questions when doing so, remember that we are just a phone call away.

Preventing People Problems

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