Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Proximity versus Productivity.

It perplexes me that Human Resources decision makers and departmental heads still base their hiring practices only on a few traits, such as years of experience, previous jobs, certifications, and studies in general.

Although not always the case, most SMEs are comprised of local talent that usually commute to work on a daily basis. People in the major cities of North America and Europe are so used to commuting for at least fifteen minutes each way, that they even think it is ‘normal’ to do so. In fact, some even consider themselves lucky not having to spend more than half an hour doing it, as that figure is below the average for most major cities.

With telecommuting and the current remote technologies we utilize now, commuting time averages have decreased for people whose job involves being in front of a computer most of the day. However, there are still many other functions that require physical presence at the work place.

Even if a person travels for only fifteen minutes each way for a year, minus holidays and vacation; such person still wastes 120 hours a year doing nothing.
Better rephrased: such person still spends 120 hours a year wasting resources, polluting, making everybody else spend even more time on the roads and, in brief, being counter-productive.

A 45 minute commute extinguishes 360 hours a year. That’s fifteen full days a year; if we include sleep time in the equation, that’s a whooping twenty two and a half days per year.

Then the well-rested not-stressed productivity factor needs to be taken into account:
Let’s suppose we have two people working in the same department doing very similar work. X is a worker whose qualifications, a combination of experience, education, smarts and all involved and required for the position, gives her a mark of 92. She works with another worker (Y) whose mark is 88.

X commute to work is 30 minutes. Y’s is 15.
Therefore, we can infer that Y is more relaxed than X. Y will also usually be more on time than X. When leaving, Y could very well take an extra 1 to 5 minutes before rushing out the door. For X, the sooner she leaves the better. X also spends more than double the amount of money needed to commute than Y does.

We could measure the productivity gains attained by a more rested worker in terms of emotional intelligence, mind freshness, focus on the tasks, etc. All these without even considering external and disruptive factors in the daily commute such as accidents, power failures, peak-hour fluctuations and such. We can conclude that Y will always be ‘closer’ to the job in every sense. So, let’s give X an 90 mark on proximity and timeliness, while Y receives a 95.

That would make X receive a total mark of 82.8, while Y makes 83.6.
Needless to say, Y will be way more productive than X. Even if the commuting factor is decreased by an extra point in opposite directions (91 for X, 94 for Y), that makes 83.72 vs. 82.72. This would make X be ahead in ideal scenarios (no disruptions in the daily commute), but in real terms both numbers would be even close, with the extra-work benefits from and for Y: less money spent on commuting, less time doing it; polluting way less than X, etc. In brief, lots of resources saved and a fresher element at work.

In terms of community, Y would feel she’s working in and for her community, being a happier person than X, whose day starts having to face the long commute to a place she doesn’t even feel she belongs to…

Get the picture?

So, why do we keep hiring based on non-community and non-proximity factors?
It is true that some key people need to travel more than others, also truth there are some that go to different places all the time, and perhaps have no other option but to do so once or twice per week, but daily?

Let’s reset the hiring machine. Local resources preferred.

Productivity + savings. What’s not to like?

No comments:

Post a Comment