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Telecommuting could ease Irish traffic
Monday, October 07 2002
by Ciaran Buckley

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With commuters now spending an average of two hours per day in the car, the lack of viable telecommuting options has added to the nation's traffic woes.

According to the results of a survey carried out by IrishJobs.ie in September, 80 percent of respondents said that more emphasis should be placed on flexible working hours. Only 26 percent of those polled said they had access to flexi-time in their workplaces.

The car was found to be the most common form of transportation used by 52 percent of respondents to get to work. Seventeen percent cycle to work, 16 percent take the bus, 7 percent walk, 5 percent took the train or DART and 2 percent use motorbikes or mopeds and 1 percent run to work.

The survey found that traffic congestion in Dublin has become so bad that the average speed of a car travelling through and around the city is less than 8 miles per hour compared to 10 mile per hour for New York City and Central London.

"Flexitime should be considered by companies for employees who require it and have to travel routes that are known for delays," said Maria Mahon, chief executive officer of IrishJobs.ie. "It is in the interest of employers to look at introducing flexitime or at least staggered working hours." According to Mahon, traffic delays cost the Irish economy in excess of EUR1.5 billion annually.

However, some experts question the need for employees to go to the office at all and instead advocate teleworking, or working from a home PC on a high-speed Internet connection. But, despite the introduction of broadband by Eircom and Esat BT, telecommuting has not yet been accepted by Irish managers, experts admit.

"The current broadband offerings will make a difference to companies at the leading edge, the companies who actually looking at this option for their employees," said Liam Breslin, director of Telework Ireland. "But at an elementary level middle management need to feel less threatened by telework and the bosses perception is the key factor in the adoption of teleworking."

Leitrim-based Breslin also thought that the price of broadband was excessive. "The current broadband prices are high, especially when you consider that it's only half the price only a few miles away across the border in Northern Ireland."

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