Imagine working five minutes walk from home. That's an extra four hours and 35 minutes on average to yourself a week
Five hours a week commute in Auckland equates to six weeks of unpaid working week every year.
Most employees don't need to be told the advantages of working around the corner from home.
Working locally doesn't just benefit employees. Local workers are also a bonus for employers, says Brien Keegan, founder of human resources consultancy Sprout.
Local employees are more engaged and less likely to jump ship. "When you employ people locally, everyone wins. (Employees) are likely to be more productive, as you will be less tired and feel you have greater balance in your life, thereby being happier in the work place," says Keegan.
Researchers in England found adding an additional 20 minutes of commuting per day, has the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a nineteen per cent pay cut, says Keegan.
Likewise a study in the United States of America found that cutting out a one hour commute is the equivalent in happiness terms of a $40,000 pay rise.
Or look at it this way, says Keegan. If someone lives in Albany and works in the city he/she commutes 45 minutes each way, or 1.5 hours a day. If the employee can get a job in Albany, the commute is likely to be 10 minutes each way. That's the equivalent of 12 work days in commuting time. Keegan points out that working locally also takes pressure off the roads and reduces carbon emissions.
The issue of the commute is not limited to Auckland. In Wellington, he says the average commute is 4.4 hours per week and 4.2 hours in Christchurch.
There is a direct correlation between commute times and well-being. "Ultimately you are creating a happier work place," says Keegan. Extra time spent with the family really does add to work/life balance and local employees are less stressed.
Some employees are willing to work for a slightly lower salary or a more junior position in order to work in their neighbourhood, although many command the same salary wherever they live. Those willing to take a step down sometimes include parents returning to work
after a break with young children. Some prefer to work locally even if it's outside of their previous career.
Whilst many people may enjoy the public transport to work, their working day starts in effect the moment they walk out the door. Thirty minutes on a train or bus may be more relaxing than driving, but you are still in work mode. The commute also adds to a sense of time pressure.
Most employees, says Keegan, become preoccupied with work when they walk out the door. On public transport employees may check their emails and maybe reply as well as mentally preparing themselves for the day.
Studies have shown the best form of commute, says Keegan is walking, over and above cycling, public transport and driving. That requires living even closer to work.
Sprout's approach, where possible, is to place local employees in jobs, says Keegan. He cites the example of a Mt Wellington client, which needed to employ a junior accounts clerk.
When candidates were short listed only those from within one suburb were included. The eventual hire couldn't believe her luck in being able to work so close to home. She finished out her contract and then took a full time job with the company. "Everyone won in that scenario," he says.
Sprout doesn't advertise specifically for loal residents. But if there are suitable locals who apply they will be put ahead of equally well qualified candidates who live further afield.
"If you are presented with two candidates who are equally qualified for the job and one lives locally it would surely be a better choice to choose (him or her)." Work is less likely to get in the way of life for the local candidate.
It's not just junior roles that benefit from local hires. Keegan has twiced placed a senior IT specialist who lives on the Hibiscus Coast in local roles. The candidate made it clear that he would only consider jobs where he could work locally and/or at home rather than spend 45 minutes each way on the Gulf Harbour Ferry to Auckalnd. The impact on his social and family life was huge.
One of the main reasons that candidates don't manage to land local jobs is they leave their job hunt too late and have to settle for what they get, says Keegan.
Ben Crawford of Libby & Ben The Creative Agency is a convert to local employees. When Crawford moved the agency from Auckland city to Takapuna to be closer to his own home, several employees decided to live on the north side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge as well.
Crawford has seen himself and through his employees how living close improves the balance of work and home life.
"It definitely helps to create the favourable mind set with your place of work."
As for the employee, Libby & Ben web developer Marc Warwick has only ever worked on the North Shore. He lives in East Coast Bays and has no interest in driving or busing across the bridge to a job. It just doesn't make sense to him when he can get good roles locally.