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Accessibility and commute key workplace attributes - Study

Taken from page 29 of Business Edge News Magazine Volume 14 Issue 1

Technology may be closing the time and distance gap for some of today's workers, but the physical office space remains an important collaborative destination for most Canadians. Reducing commute time is so important to Canadian employes that, according to a recent study by Oxford Properties and Environics Research Group, one third of those surveyed said they would be willing to work an extra three hours per week for a reasonable commute to the office.

Canadians surveyed identified accessibility and commuting as the most valued attributes in a workplace, with 76 percent indicating they want a reasonable commute tot he office. Commute time was the number one factor for 50 percent of respondents when asked to choose on employer over another when other factors were held constant.

Eighty two percent of overall respondents felt that a commute time of less than 30 minutes was the appropriate travel time to work. Close to 40 percent of respondents also wanted their workplace to be close to lifestyle amenities, such as shops restaurants and gyms to better balance their work and personal life priorities in a given day.

"Employees and job seekers are placing an even greater emphasis on the value of their time and the transit options of a workplace", says Andrew McAllan, senior vice president and managing director, Real Estate, Oxford Properties. "Optimizing the office location and transit accessibility in conjunction with collaborative spatial design and a wide variety of amenities, will be crucial selling points for employers to attract and retain the brightest, most loyal employees."

Although commuting is becoming a greater consideration for many employees and job seekers, the office space itself is far from obsolete as collaborative work cultures and environments are on the rise. In fact, 57 percent of respondents said they collaborate more than they did five years ago.

Surprisingly, the more tech and social media savvy General Y demographic - comprising one third of Canada's population and the next wave of the country's active labour force - place a greater importance on being physically in the office with 79 percent defining collaboration as working together in the same space in person. In comparison, only 59 percent of boomers feel that collaboration means working face-to-face.

"Organizational culture is greatly influenced by direct human and environmental interaction, and there's a great deal of collaborative innovation that happens within the four walls of an office. To encourage talent to participate in this physical space, smart organizations will recognize that finding an optimal location is not only a job seeker's choice, but a strategic responsibility of the employer to attract and retain the most engaged employees," says McAllan.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • 44 percent of respondents value a workplace that is easily accessible.
  • General Y is more likely than any other age group to work three extra hours per week for access to on-site or nearby lifestyle amenities.
  • Despite greater flexible workplace options offered by employers, working from home is no the norm with the average respondent working only 1.8 days from home per month.