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How We Changed the Commuting Habits of Our People

Habits may be hard to change but through initiatives like a public transport allowance and carpooling scheme, we have managed to change the commuting habits of our employees, making getting to work less challenging and more sustainable. 

staff transport and the benefits it’s brought. This interview first appeared in their newsletter.

Firstly, we’d love to know what inspired you to move your offices to the city centre?

Consult is an organisation that celebrates the power of team and working together. Having two offices in Takapuna and Newmarket meant we weren’t as strong a force as if we were all located together – and loads of time was being wasted driving between offices (not to mention fuel costs, lost productivity and contributing to pollution!).

What’s more, in the past we used to have issues with candidates not being able to get over to Takapuna or Newmarket, which impacted on our candidate experience. However, they can all come into the city centre which is great. This is especially important when you consider the fact that what we do is based on forming strong relationships with our community, and to do this most effectively requires meetings in person. Being in a city centre location is brilliant for that.  

Consult Recruitment was recently named the Supreme winner at Auckland Transport’s 2019 Travelwise Choices awards – congratulations! Why have you made sustainable travel such a focus for your business?

Habits are hard to change, and we were very conscious that for our team, a move to the city centre meant a commute for everyone (I myself used to live five minutes away from our Takapuna office), so making the commute less challenging for our people was the least we could do!

We also saw it as an opportunity to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. This was great from a sustainability perspective as well as a health perspective.

What initiatives have you put in place to support staff when it comes to getting to, from and around the city centre?

The solutions we implemented include:

  • A monthly travel allowance that covers the bulk of any commuting costs
  • Company cars on-hand, so our people can use them if they need to go and visit clients outside the city centre
  • Flexible start/finish times, to avoid peak traffic
  • Technology that ensures everyone is mobile, allowing for flexible working as needed

Our public transport allowance in particular has been hugely popular with the team.  Paying for public transport is a bit of a grudge expense, so the fact we take care of it for our people has been really well received.  Many of our clients are now looking at implementing them too because it is an attractive bonus for job seekers.

What positive changes have you noticed as a result of encouraging sustainable travel options for your staff?

Since moving offices, the number of staff who drive to work has dropped from 92 per cent to 37 per cent. Being in the city centre allows our team to access all forms of public transport – buses, trains and ferries – it really is the most convenient location for all our people.

Some of the other benefits we’ve observed include:

  • For employees living further out from the office, it has allowed them to get to work quicker, avoiding the frustration of being stuck in traffic.
  • For some, particularly on the ferries, it has meant that they have an excuse to leave work (otherwise they miss the ferry!). This has really helped with achieving work/life balance.   
  • Our staff that catch the ferry say there is no better way to get to and from the office than sitting on a ferry on a warm sunny day, they have even seen dolphins and orcas while on their journey.
  • We’ve heard from staff who say they love the downtime they have on public transport – being able to read a book, catch up on the latest news, or watch their favourite TV shows and movies.
  • Some enjoy getting their daily exercise by walking to and from the stations, getting the blood pumping (one employee even pushes his twins in their pram uphill to drop them off at daycare, on the way to the station) and the mind going in the morning.
  • Catching public transport allowed one of our team to build better relationships with a few clients that shared the same route as her and even led to getting exclusive business.
  • Others simply feel good about using a sustainable option to improve the environment.

What do you think about the rise of e-vehicles like e-scooters and e-bikes – have these been popular amongst your staff or clients? 

I personally think that e-scooters and e-bikes are brilliant and we will be looking towards e-vehicles as we update our fleet of company cars. 

Our team certainly makes use of e-scooters to nip between client meetings in the city centre. They’re definitely useful (plus they give us an opportunity to feel like a kid again which is great!)

A personal question to finish – what do you love about Auckland’s city centre?

Moving our offices into one city centre office has been a real eye opener for me.  I was probably one of the people most against the move, but it has been brilliant for the success of Consult and our people. 

I love the energy and the buzz you can only get here – there is so much good stuff happening. There are great restaurants and cafes, shops and places to go.  

We believe that public transport should be at the heart of a thriving modern city.  We love what is happening in Auckland with public transport, and are proud to play a small (but important!) part in its success!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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