Keep your business on track during rail disruptions

Melbourne and Victoria are growing and with that come a few challenges.

One of those challenges is creating a public transport network that can get everyone around. To manage that, the State Government is undertaking a number of infrastructure projects, including the Metro Tunnel, which will cause travel disruption.

The improvements are great for the long term, but in the short term may provide some headaches for your business and staff.

Here are some tips that we think will be just the ticket to keep your business chugging along smoothly.

Long exposure photograph showing blurred commuters and a train at a train station.

1. Plan ahead

As with all aspects of business, being prepared is key. Public Transport Victoria (PTV) provides updates on any disruptions planned for the rail network to help you keep on top of where and when disruption will occur.

Information on changes and updates on the road network can be found on the VicRoads website.

Victoria’s Big Build website can also give you an overview of all Victorian infrastructure projects with a handy map so you can see what’s happening near you.

If you or your staff do need to travel on rail lines affected by construction, consider the following:

  • arrive in the city by 7.30am to avoid long delays
  • as a bonus, if you touch on and off public transport by 7.15am on weekdays your travel is free!
  • use online maps or planning apps to determine your best route and travel time
  • if you live close to the city, consider walking or cycling to work once or twice a week
  • talk to colleagues who may have suggestions and tips about walking or riding to work
  • check the end-of-trip facilities (secure bike parking, showers and lockers) in or near your place of work.

2. Work flexibly

While flexible working arrangements are something employees who have worked for longer than 12 months are entitled to request,  it’s a good idea to adopt flexible working to keep your business running smoothly during disruption.

Offer flexible start and finish times to your staff

Flexible working is often used to help accommodate childcare and school pick-up requirements. During rail works, it can also be used to avoid peak hour increases in demand on buses replacing trains.

Consider shifting start and finish times by an hour or two. This could mean starting and finishing early to avoid peak hour or working remotely for the first couple of hours of the day to avoid congestion. As mentioned above, this can have the added advantage of saving money by tapping off before 7.15am.

Compressed hours can also be an option, allowing employees to work additional daily hours providing a shorter working week. Working a four-day week will cut down on the number of trips needed to get to and from work.

Allow staff to work from home

Working from home avoids the commute altogether and many roles can be performed remotely; all you need is a little planning.

  • Make sure your employees have an OHS compliant workspace where they’re free of distractions. WorkSafe has advice on how to do your own inspection.
  • Ensure employees have access to email, files and folders they need to work effectively. If you have an IT department, talk to them about how to allow remote access. Cloud solutions like Office 365, Microsoft Sharepoint, Google Docs and Google Drive make it easy to find flexible solutions that work for your business.
  • Make sure you update calendars, so your team knows each other’s whereabouts. If you can’t drop by someone’s desk for a chat, a quick phone call can be just as good.
  • Use technology. Team collaboration tools like Slack and Trello can help coordinate work. You can set up teleconferences with solutions like Skype for Business and GoToMeeting. It’s 2019. Just because you’re not in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t work face-to-face.

Spend time with family

To minimise impact, public transport works are planned around school holidays. You or your staff can take the opportunity to spend time with the kids and trade morning train journeys for Thomas the Tank Engine, the Hogwarts Express or a ride on Puffing Billy.

The most important thing is to talk to your employees about what options might work for them and hte business. Make sure they know that they can approach you if they’d like to explore flexible working arrangements either short or long-term.