Clearing the congestion: How conference calling can get you out of a jam

Clearing the congestion: How conference calling can get you out of a jam (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Stop the presses. London is the second most congested city in the whole of Europe.

While you may detect a hint of sarcasm, we're genuinely surprised our beloved capital hasn't appeared at the top of the list to claim this prestigious honour. Apparently, that accolade belongs to Brussels, Belgium.

Research published by traffic monitoring company Inrix has revealed commuters using the roads in London, are on average wasting a staggering 82 hours stuck in traffic every single year.

That's nearly three-and-a-half full days out of the 365.

The road to nowhere

Just as we've previously criticised the rail network and explained the risks its use can pose to businesses, the roads are proving to be not much better.

In fact, this study only looked at the problem caused by traffic. If you're relying on your car to get you from A to B, then there are a whole host of other things that can get in the way of you reaching your destination.

Sudden breakdowns and accidents, rogue sat navs sending you the wrong way, bad weather slowing you down, the list can continue for quite a distance. It seems that if you're not being held to ransom by train operators, there's something nasty waiting for you on the country's thoroughfares.

The AA says that flat batteries, dodgy clutch cables and faulty alternators are among the top ten reasons why they get called out to help stranded motorists, while 150,000 people in the UK put the wrong fuel in their car every year. It's fair to say owning a motor can be a bit of a minefield.

The scary thing is, as a business, you can't afford to take these sort of risks on a daily basis. If you do, it will inevitably end up costing you money. In a recent infographic, we calculated what commuting really costs and the results were rather eye-opening.

As well as the financial impact delays on the road can have by sabotaging your punctuality to business meetings and lowering productivity levels, you also have to consider the extra burden being placed on your workforce by having them travel to and from the office every day.

According to recruitment firm Randstad Financial & Professional, the average London worker spends 56 minutes per day commuting, despite only having to travel 15 miles. This extra hour added on to the traditional nine-to-five will eventually take its toll, burning out workers at a much speedier rate than if they didn't have to put up with it.

The flexible working shortcut – what are the options?

We feel that free conference calls are an integral part of the remote working revolution. With more businesses jumping on the bandwagon then ever, the benefits are outweighing the concerns. Through effectively using this technology as part of your business model, you can ensure clients, suppliers and business partners are getting the attention needed without having to travel halfway across the country (or just the other side of the city in London's case).

Maintaining contact with your business associates is vital if you want to achieve a prosperous relationship with them and, while face-to-face contact can never be completely substituted, there are certainly instances when time doesn't allow for the travel needed to meet them this way.

Another point we make quite regularly is how easy it is to cut out the commute completely, encouraging staff to do their jobs remotely instead.

Introducing work-from-home days to reduce the pressure on your staff can not only make their lives less stressful, it can also save them money – meaning they'll be seeing more benefit in working for your business in the long term. With the job market gaining its feet again it is crucial to look at ways to keep your staff happier and stress free.

When rolling out remote working for the first time we encourage you to pay attention to how you schedule the rota, ensuring that you don't end up short of bodies in the office or indirectly encouraging some staff to abuse it through poor monitoring of their weekly progress.

Rather than implement it across all workers at once, why not try using it as a carrot to motivate your staff to work towards this opportunity. If implemented correctly it will reinforce why your company is such a good one to work for.

If everyone did the same, maybe London's congestion wouldn't be so bad after all. Give the green light to conference calling and get yourself, and your workers, out of a jam they could really do without.