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A colleague called me from a bus this morning to tell me she’d be unable to make an 8.30am meeting because the “traffic was at a standstill”.

The fact she had left her home – a mere 19 kilometers from the office – at 6.30am that morning still did not guarantee she’d get to work on time. After sitting on a bus for almost two hours, she decided to get off and walk the remaining distance; eventually arriving at the the office just before 10am.

I’ve often said “don’t blame the traffic for being late, you didn’t give yourself enough time”. But in this case, the circumstances were entirely out of her – and the thousands of other commuters caught up the chaos’ – hands. The reality was that an oil spill in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel had created outright catastrophic traffic conditions all over Sydney. It had quite literally brought the city to a standstill – from every direction. I live less than 3km from work – and the gridlock meant I could not even get out of my lane way.

This begs the question: “how much productivity is swallowed up each day, week, month and year commuting?” And that’s just in normal circumstances – what about days like today when the majority of the city’s workforce are trapped in traffic? I’m sure it’s staggering.

With the advent of the mobile work culture – smart phones, tablets, laptops and mobile wifi – at least many of us are able to check emails, work on projects or make calls to ensure the time we spend in transit isn’t entirely wasted. But what of those whose work revolves around being “on site”? Tradesmen, shop owners, doctors and nurses?

Time is our most valuable resource, so how can we work as a community to make sure it’s not wasted on a mundane bus journey each day?

I don’t have the answers, that’s for sure. But we’re certainly doing our part at RedBalloon by ensuring our people have the right tools to allow them to maximize their productivity at every opportunity. How are you making the most of every moment?

(PS I recently wrote that I can work anywhere – and this was written in the gridlock)

Reader Interactions


  1. Naomi, I couldn’t agree more. The accumulated time wasted sitting in traffic, the meetings missed, the late deliveries, missed appointments must add up to a huge productivity loss. The solution is not an easy one but it is one that must be found.

  2. Time is a valuable resource and it is ridiculous that people spend their time in traffic instead of being productive. If you have a trip that is 10kms and under, this is easy to accomplish on a bicycle. My old work used to be 10kms away and took 30mins by bicycle, a guaranteed 1 hour of exercise in the day plus a great way to unwind at the end of work. If your work distance is over 10kms you could easily combine public transport or private car with a folding bike such as a Brompton. Lobbying for alternatives such as safe bicycle networks would be a great asset to society. Check out which looks at a viable alternative. I would love to see society freed from gridlock!

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