The daily commute has long impacted employment - whether it be the time wasted behind the wheel of the car, the inconvenience of public transit or people unable to reach the job interview in the first place because neither a car or public transit were possible. As our highways became more congested and our cities more polluted, reliance on private cars came into focus but never has a safe and convenient commute been more important than what we see today.
49% of people say the commute is impacting their decision to return to work (JLL, 2020), which will likely worsen our car parking and congestion woes as people avoid public transit. Worse still, a survey of our customers in industrial locations revealed that 30% of job applicants didn’t turn up to the job interview in the first place because they couldn't get there - with no viable public transit option and no access to a car. With public transit systems facing a financial, confidence and capacity crisis, the gaps in the network are only going to get bigger. Increasingly, employers are needing to take responsibility for the commute themselves - but those that do, will benefit in ways they never considered before.
Covid-19 has accelerated e-commerce growth as well as forcing a large scale displacement in the labor force. Layoffs in sectors like hospitality and aviation present an opportunity for employers in an otherwise competitive labor market in warehousing, logistics and manufacturing. As e-commerce and logistics locations scale up, many of them have invested in commuting initiatives to act as the bridge to access this talent.
Zeelo has been supporting employers such as Ocado, Amazon and Henkel across 4 countries to provide dedicated smart bus services that are designed to meet shift patterns and act as a safe ‘bubble’ to reduce the risk of an covid-19 outbreak. We use data to design routes around current employees or potential recruitment zones, mobile apps for riders to manage subscriptions and track their vehicle and a 24/7 support team to make sure everything runs smoothly. All services are equipped with technology and processes for distancing, contact tracing and antiviral sanitisation.
Employers are experiencing benefits beyond reducing infection risk and accessing talent - many are reporting emptier car parks, on time and less fatigued staff and will be able to report a lower carbon impact this year. These benefits can multiply when complemented by other options like safe carpooling and incentive and tax programmes.
As employers continue to operate, recruit more staff and others welcome back those working from home, the commute will present a significant hurdle. Employers who choose to invest now will reap benefits well beyond their immediate needs, maintaining the commute as a C-suite conversation for many years to come.
Sam Ryan is Co-Founder & CEO of Zeelo - a safe bus-sharing company operating in the US, UK, Italy and South Africa. Zeelo provides smart transportation services for commuting and school runs; equipped with social distancing and infection risk measures during the current situation. Zeelo works with large companies and schools across multiple sectors with a focus on retailers, logistics and manufacturing.
Prior to founding Zeelo, Sam exited a ride-sharing business with his co-founders in 2014 to Addison Lee, Europe’s largest private taxi service, where he became Head of Product.