Telework provides big benefits

WOLLONGONG ADVERTISER

Working from home or locally rather than travelling to  Sydney for work would provide a major benefit for the Illawarra’s economy and the health of the region’s 20,000 commuters, a survey has revealed.

The survey, Commuting: A Thing of the Past?, looks at Illawarra commuters and experiences with commuting and telework. It took place last September and involved 211 respondents from Kiama to Helensburgh.

It was compiled by Cordeaux Heights resident Claudia Perry-Beltrame, a former commuter to Sydney, who now runs Cultural Inspirations, specialising in workplace change. 

Ms Perry-Beltrame said there were about 20,000 Illawarra commuters – more than 18per cent of the region’s employed residents.

‘‘The perception we have is that they all commute to Sydney CBD – they don’t, there’s only about 16per cent who travel to Sydney CBD. Most of the others travel to surrounding suburbs, the Southern Highlands or Blue Mountains, or even interstate or throughout NSW.’’

Most commuters travelled by car.

‘‘Every commuter story we hear is about the train, but it’s actually the case that 75per cent of  commuters travel by car.’’

The survey, which was mainly completed by train commuters, showed that the average commute was 180 minutes, far higher than the national average of 54 minutes.

Each person on average spent $27 per day but car commuters would have higher expenses. Based on 20,000 commuters, that was $130million spent annually.

‘‘I would say that’s the minimum amount, petrol costs you more, wear and tear on your car, these haven’t been factored in,’’ Ms Perry-Beltrame said.

Over half the respondents commuted for higher pay.

The survey showed that telework was possible for most commuters –  58per cent said their job was suitable for telework at least one day a week.

Of the 211 respondents, 62 said they already did telework. Of the 149 who didn’t, more than 47per cent were interested but there was a perception that telework could be complicated.

‘‘We need to get the word out more that teleworking is quite simple if the organisation is prepared to put the effort in.’’

Ms Perry-Beltrame said it could provide many benefits, including reducing commuter fatigue, improving family life and greater spending locally.

Telework can reduce escape spending and commuter fatigue, says former commuter Claudia Perry-Beltrame. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Telework can reduce escape spending and commuter fatigue, says former commuter Claudia Perry-Beltrame. Picture: ROBERT PEET