Traffic congestion has a considerable financial impact on the Quebec economy and the profitability of businesses. In fact, it generates $4.2 billion in losses each year. For employers, these losses translate into lower employee productivity, frequent tardiness and difficulties in attracting and retaining talent.
Mobility management: A work in progress
For several years, and through various initiatives, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal has positioned itself and contributed to discussions on ways to ensure the fluidity of travel in Greater Montréal, the epicentre of this problem in Quebec. Be it through studies or Strategic Forums, the Chamber frequently intervenes with political decision makers during public consultations on transport issues. In 2017 and 2018, the Chamber piloted the “Employers take action for sustainable mobility” project, a consultation initiative that drew 85 businesses and traffic generators in urban areas. The project sparked the business community’s interest in the deployment of concrete mobility solutions and incorporated that interest in creating a travel management service for businesses and their employees.
The Chamber is set to publish a new study focusing on the level of commitment that businesses have toward improving employee mobility and how doing so can contribute to their appeal. Anchored in the context of a labour shortage that has plagued Greater Montréal over the past year, the study gives voice to 1,000 workers and 500 businesses with an eye to gauging the importance of workplace accessibility in selecting and maintaining a job. However, with the advent of COVID-19, traffic generators have been forced to rethink their approach to mobility and work organization.
Rethinking mobility for a more successful recovery
Working from home has quickly become the new normal, allowing businesses to continue their activities all while countering the spread of the virus. User concerns and the stresses linked to compliance with sanitary standards in public transit have also helped reinforce the indispensable trend of working from home. Following the Quebec government’s announcement allowing employees to return to the workplace, a number of employers are making preparations, in accordance with public health sanitary protocols. Despite this, working from home will likely persist beyond the pandemic and its possible second wave. According to a recent Chamber survey, 73% of surveyed employers are considering the permanent implementation of a hybrid organization model combining working from home and on site. The survey also revealed that 55% of employers are concerned with employee mobility and are committed to facilitating travel by offering flexible schedules and working from home.
However, barriers preventing the smooth flow of travel will not disappear overnight. All players in the ecosystem—employers, transport authorities and policy makers—will be called upon when the pressure on Greater Montréal’s transportation network is felt again. Nevertheless, the pandemic has highlighted the need to rethink the relationship between the mobility of workers and the role employers must play to ensure the fluidity of transport in Montréal as well as the economic recovery.