One of the few positive points arising from the Ivan incident is that several established businesses were able to implement their business continuity plans successfully, despite their employees being (almost literally) scattered to the four corners of the Earth.
Some of these businesses experienced an almost seamless transition from office-bound working to remote working. Indeed, one major Island participant saw its business peak during the immediate aftermath of Ivan as its staff relocated to and settled in to an overseas hotel or home or other temporary venue.
That traffic conditions on Grand Cayman are verging upon total gridlock is a given. It’s just a question of when, not if. In the intervening time, however, the increasingly punishing commutes into the office call for alternative ways of working.
I consider I have a short commute by car; door-to- door my travel distance is eight miles each way, approximately six miles of which is via West Bay Road. On an average good day, it takes me the best part of 45 minutes to cover the eight miles; on an average bad day, an hour (joggers travel faster).
Research conducted by Dr. David Lewis Consultancy in December 2004 for a major IT company shows that even short journeys can induce higher stress levels than those experienced by fighter pilots going into combat and police officers facing rioting mobs. It confirms what millions of commuters already suspected: commuting really is bad for your health.
Any wonder, then, that incidents of road rage are up and on the up.
Some 60 per cent of commuters do not find commuting a relaxed, punctual or pleasant experience. Instead, it is typically regarded as an ordeal that varies from being sometimes stressful to an exhausting, highly stressful nightmare.
These findings send out a very clear message: it is time for us all to reconsider the costs and benefits of the traditional nine to five office-bound working day. Bosses have to stop thinking that if someone is at their desk they are working and that they are skiving if they are working elsewhere.
The tools, technology and support needed to make businesses and their employees more flexible, as Ivan demonstrates, exist; it will now take a leap of faith from employees who are willing and able to make it happen.
This leap has already happened elsewhere in the world as a result of the final trigger of traffic movement becoming atrophied and commuting staff simply unable to perform; such businesses continue to thrive.
Businesses often fail to treat their staff with the consideration any asset deserves – care and nurture. It’s high time for lateral as opposed to blinkered vision to focus on the issue.
The debate on how best to resolve our traffic congestion is at times colourful, but really quite futile.
Until CIG establishes and promotes a viable traffic management policy that is both workable and deliverable and on a reasonable timescale, Caymanians are victims of their own success; success that will be better maintained by being practiced from home and not the office.
Name withheld by request