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Author Topic: End of the Monday-Friday commute? Transport watchdog calls for urgent rail fares  (Read 2379 times)
grahame
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« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2020, 07:04:54 am »

We are on really dangerous territory as we try to predict changing patterns into the future; I'm pretty certain that we can't be certain ...

But let's take a line with 50% commuter / business traffic pre-pandemic, and then have 50% of that traffic reduce their trips by 50%.  Multiply the factors, and you have a 12.5% drop in passengers.  Now take a town on that line and increase its population within the station catchment from 25,000 to 32,000 and that's a volumetric increase of 28%.  Net GROWTH in commuter traffic 12%, likely growth in leisure / personal traffic 28%.

The survey which was the subject of this thread and gave it its context referred specifically to changing working practices, a reduction in commuting and consequent huge fall in passenger numbers ...

I was writing / doing my arithmetic in parallel.  Think my comments stand. But adding - there is potential for the peaks to be very much less peaky.  And goodness knows what that does the fare models ... probably depends on government objectives?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2020, 09:42:29 am »

I wonder how much of a de-peaking we will actually see? Already many firms are recalling their employees into their offices some go eagerly, some not. The main motivation for long-term WFH is going to be reduced costs, which is mainly in the form of smaller office space, so mostly applicable to larger companies. We'll have to wait and see how leases are renegotiated, which of course is going to bring its own economic and other effects. It does seem though that where people are returning to office working, they're doing so on conventional office hours.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2020, 03:36:11 pm »

I wonder how much of a de-peaking we will actually see? Already many firms are recalling their employees into their offices some go eagerly, some not. The main motivation for long-term WFH is going to be reduced costs, which is mainly in the form of smaller office space, so mostly applicable to larger companies. We'll have to wait and see how leases are renegotiated, which of course is going to bring its own economic and other effects. It does seem though that where people are returning to office working, they're doing so on conventional office hours.

Interesting. Sources for any of that?
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Celestial
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« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2020, 03:45:07 pm »

I wonder how much of a de-peaking we will actually see? Already many firms are recalling their employees into their offices some go eagerly, some not. The main motivation for long-term WFH is going to be reduced costs, which is mainly in the form of smaller office space, so mostly applicable to larger companies. We'll have to wait and see how leases are renegotiated, which of course is going to bring its own economic and other effects. It does seem though that where people are returning to office working, they're doing so on conventional office hours.

Interesting. Sources for any of that?
Of all of my family, friends, former colleagues who work in banking, insurance, law, and local authority, all of them are being told that they are working from home for the forseeable future, possibly until the end of the year. That's in London, the West Country and Wales. So I'm rather sceptical of the assertion. Yes, there will be some drift back, but I certainly won't be investing in office property companies in the near future. I think the bottom has just dropped out of that market, with the realisation that much smaller and cheaper square footage can be utilised in future, COVID or no COVID.
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stuving
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« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2020, 04:23:50 pm »

I wonder how much of a de-peaking we will actually see? Already many firms are recalling their employees into their offices some go eagerly, some not. The main motivation for long-term WFH is going to be reduced costs, which is mainly in the form of smaller office space, so mostly applicable to larger companies. We'll have to wait and see how leases are renegotiated, which of course is going to bring its own economic and other effects. It does seem though that where people are returning to office working, they're doing so on conventional office hours.

Interesting. Sources for any of that?
Of all of my family, friends, former colleagues who work in banking, insurance, law, and local authority, all of them are being told that they are working from home for the forseeable future, possibly until the end of the year. That's in London, the West Country and Wales. So I'm rather sceptical of the assertion. Yes, there will be some drift back, but I certainly won't be investing in office property companies in the near future. I think the bottom has just dropped out of that market, with the realisation that much smaller and cheaper square footage can be utilised in future, COVID or no COVID.

But if you are running a railway (and this goes for a lot of other things) the end of this year isn't even short term - it's just a temporary blip. The fact that "foreseeable" is so short at the moment should perhaps tell us something: not to try planning anything while we don't have a clue what will be needed even in two years' time.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2020, 04:24:30 pm »

I wonder how much of a de-peaking we will actually see? Already many firms are recalling their employees into their offices some go eagerly, some not. The main motivation for long-term WFH is going to be reduced costs, which is mainly in the form of smaller office space, so mostly applicable to larger companies. We'll have to wait and see how leases are renegotiated, which of course is going to bring its own economic and other effects. It does seem though that where people are returning to office working, they're doing so on conventional office hours.

Interesting. Sources for any of that?
Of all of my family, friends, former colleagues who work in banking, insurance, law, and local authority, all of them are being told that they are working from home for the forseeable future, possibly until the end of the year. That's in London, the West Country and Wales. So I'm rather sceptical of the assertion. Yes, there will be some drift back, but I certainly won't be investing in office property companies in the near future. I think the bottom has just dropped out of that market, with the realisation that much smaller and cheaper square footage can be utilised in future, COVID or no COVID.

Absolutely agree with that and it matches my experience - my company is anything but large and we're being told that other than essential workers (which basically means tradesmen) we're WFH until October earliest, and have been invited to consider whether we would like to move to a different working pattern or be based primarily at home in future..

Funnily enough though I nipped into the office today to pick up some IT kit - train from Taplow - Ealing virtually empty at about 0945, Tube from Ealing same - slightly busier coming back (1530 ish) but nothing to write home about.

London was actually quite pleasant although a bit surreal being so quiet.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 04:52:07 pm by TaplowGreen » Logged
Celestial
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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2020, 05:20:11 pm »


But if you are running a railway (and this goes for a lot of other things) the end of this year isn't even short term - it's just a temporary blip. The fact that "foreseeable" is so short at the moment should perhaps tell us something: not to try planning anything while we don't have a clue what will be needed even in two years' time.
You're missing the point. This crisis has proved that with modern technology, not only is it possible for a large proportion of the workforce to work from home, it's very attractive financially and with little if any impairment on productivity.

The cost of office accommodation in Central London is around 20k to 25k pa in rent, rates and ancillary costs per desk. (Or at least it was - I doubt future rental yields will be consistent with that type of figure.) Added to which the employee has daily travel costs which are often not insubstantial, plus the time and stress of the journey. It's one of those rare occasions when it's a win-win for employee and employer. 
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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2020, 05:49:45 pm »


But if you are running a railway (and this goes for a lot of other things) the end of this year isn't even short term - it's just a temporary blip. The fact that "foreseeable" is so short at the moment should perhaps tell us something: not to try planning anything while we don't have a clue what will be needed even in two years' time.
You're missing the point. This crisis has proved that with modern technology, not only is it possible for a large proportion of the workforce to work from home, it's very attractive financially and with little if any impairment on productivity.

The cost of office accommodation in Central London is around 20k to 25k pa in rent, rates and ancillary costs per desk. (Or at least it was - I doubt future rental yields will be consistent with that type of figure.) Added to which the employee has daily travel costs which are often not insubstantial, plus the time and stress of the journey. It's one of those rare occasions when it's a win-win for employee and employer. 


I work for a large company (20K+) and its not quite win-win. There's been a surge in additional costs such as laptops, headsets, webcams. We've pushed back on furniture such as chairs, desks, monitors, keyboards but if people are expected to work this way for the foreseeable future then those requests will come back. The surveys we've done on staff well being show that middle-aged, middle managers and above generally like the new ways of working but anyone under 35 in a bedsit or house share are struggling. Many people have found their broadband isn't up to it and getting demands for contributions or accept reduced effectiveness.

Technically our infrastructure assumes most people are in the building on the local network. Its going to be expensive and challenging to change that to most people connecting remotely.

Also for many companies the central London (or other cities) offices aren't going to go away and moving isn't a simple thing for medium sized companies and above. At the moment we're losing money despite a near empty building and I can't see that changing in the short term.

I think the biggest argument though is that we've found so many people have struggled mentally to work in the new ways and don't want to. We're looking at 'blended' working one week in two weeks out type working to try address that. I'd also hate to start a new job in this sort of environment.

Personally I am really hoping we can move to new ways of working but I know I'm fortunate in having a study, large garden, a long history in my current role and work that doesn't need me to travel into the office too often. 
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2020, 06:46:24 pm »

I work for a large company (20K+) and its not quite win-win. There's been a surge in additional costs such as laptops, headsets, webcams. We've pushed back on furniture such as chairs, desks, monitors, keyboards but if people are expected to work this way for the foreseeable future then those requests will come back. The surveys we've done on staff well being show that middle-aged, middle managers and above generally like the new ways of working but anyone under 35 in a bedsit or house share are struggling. Many people have found their broadband isn't up to it and getting demands for contributions or accept reduced effectiveness.

My son and his wife have both been working from home. Whilst their home broadband is up to it, more often than not, my son has to start work late into the afternoon and finish after midnight simply because his company's network is unable to handle the amount of traffic. His wife, on the other hand, has no problem during the 'normal working day', but her boss wants his team back in the office sooner rather than later.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2020, 07:06:12 pm »

Some people love wfh, some hate it, just as with other aspects of lockdown and the 'new normal' (which to me is looking increasingly like the old normal). 63closure mentioned he'd hate to start a new job in this situation there's been a lot of talk of keeping in touch with employees and teams for both mental health and work efficiency, but if you were recruiting now, how do you make someone feel a part of a team when they've never met the others in the team? How do you develop any corporate loyalty when the corporation is a 'virtual' entity? How do you ensure security when people are working with their own, possibly outdated, hardware and software and sending data over a flaky wifi shared with housemates? Lots of potential but lots of problems too.

I'm sure some companies will go officeless, some will return to everyone in one building 9 to 5, some will adopt some sort of hybrid scheme. I'm not going to predict which ones will do what or who will react how!
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2020, 07:11:48 pm »

I agree that infrastructure changes will be necessary, although I suspect many companies may well have already taken action or be in the process of doing so. As for furniture, laptops etc, you can buy a lot of that for 25k a year at London rents.

Remember, companies renting office space are locked into leases which means they may have no immediate need to take action. But if you are XYZ Bank whose lease is up for renewal next year, you will look very, very, closely before locking yourself into a new 10 year lease. 1,000 employees, that's 25m over 10 years.  Cut by half, that's a nice saving, and a reasonable balance of time in the office and WFH. And you have time to plan for it, as you know when your lease expires.

I also wouldn't want to be a company that offers disaster recovery workspaces. I'm guessing these were predominately redundant this time around (unless they enabled much more spaced out working), and I would imagine would in future be replaced in company's DR plans by WFH.
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2020, 11:23:49 pm »

Some good points on both side of the discussion as to where we'll end up in terms of lost commuting due to more people working from home.

There obviously will be a significant drop, but nobody yet knows whether it will be 10%, 25%, 50% or more.  We'll just have to wait and see.  As the article says though, the railway industry would be wise to try and position itself as best it can by offering flexible season ticket options ASAP on all fares.

I would not want to be the owner of large office spaces in big cities at the moment though, as when those leases come up for renewal it will be the current occupiers that hold all the cards.  I can see many blocks being part leased to companies that would previously have occupied a whole building, so they can still ensure some of the benefits of people working together together and not virtually together.  I can see many more laying empty!
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« Reply #27 on: July 07, 2020, 11:41:23 am »

A completely empty building would be ripe for conversion to flats or stud accomm. The half-empty ones would be a problem.
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« Reply #28 on: July 07, 2020, 01:05:26 pm »

I've been working at home since my employer - ironically, a large transport organisation - pre-empted the government's guidance by a full week. 

While the technology broadly allows us to keep going, it's all very clinical and I'm increasingly feeling that I'm working in a silo, with none of the informal interaction with people I don't directly work with. Where previously information was often shared almost by accident as a natural result of being in the same space, we now have to make a real effort.  I'm isolated from the wider picture, I only hear about things outside my direct role if someone thinks to tell me, and increasingly what I do seems like an academic exercise with no practical outcome.  Perversely I also get told too much about things I'm not interested in because management want to avoid me feeling isolated! To a great extent working from home is made easier by the fact that I already knew the colleagues I now deal with only by phone/email/text/Skype/Zoom/Teams, but over time as staff turn over I will know none of the quirks, individualities or interests of new arrivals, nor they of me; not a recipe for getting the best out of people.  Innovation, creativity and effectiveness will all suffer.

Many of us are now feeling that while the option of working from home part of the time is wonderful, we really do want to be back in the same shared space for a significant part of the time, so offices and transport will still be needed.
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« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2020, 01:23:53 pm »

I expect there will be a bit of a WFH novelty fall off amongst some.  The worst case scenario for the railways is that a major percentage of the previous commuting fraternity do a Monday and Friday WFH and go into the office on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  That would be very difficult to cater for effectively.
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