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Is network congestion the only congestion you can help fix?

Could you build a business case for expanding networks, mobility and collaboration capabilities based upon a traffic jam? Well, that day may come sooner than you think.

Today the cost of gridlock to various global economies is very high and rapidly increasing.That cost impacts, the economy and personal pockets, not to mention, environmental and social costs.

The collective cost of congestion across the UK, German and US economies has been forecast to hit US$2.8 trillion by 2030, with the annual percentage increases for each of those nations to be somewhere between 32 and 63 per cent.

According to the same source, by 2030 UK workers will have their personal annual cost of commuting increase by 44 percent to US$3,217. Meanwhile, in Germany and the US, the percentage increases are similar at 34 and 33 per cent respectively. Imagine a world where 20 per cent of your annual income is spent on commuting to and from work - it's already a reality in some areas of the world.

Within the Asia Pacific region, Manila's traffic jams reportedly cost US$57 million every day, and the yearly bill for Beijing in 2014 reported to be US$11.3 billion.

Now, it's not the purpose of this brief reflection to provide a global solution on such a huge and ungainly issue. However we do live in a world where questions increasingly need to be asked about why so many of us are sitting in these various gridlocks in the first place.

As highlighted in my previous blog, we are putting forward various aspects around the case for mobility, flexibility and remote working, and I've chosen this one to start with.

Some might say that the status quo is simply unsustainable, and maybe the dollars should be spent on broad initiatives to facilitate regional work hubs. But again, bubbling under the surface remains the imperative to culturally enable broad and consistent work practices. These wouldn't require the line of sight management of staff. Of course the networks, tools, technology and adoption remain paramount.

Last year the Australian Railway Association put together a report outlining how, as individuals, we can save money by getting out of our cars and on to public transport. Commuting on public transport is just one step, that will see us not commuting every work day in the first place.

Where does the Australian estimate sit in regard to the economic cost of congestion? Well comparing the cost from 2005 against the projected cost in four years' time sees a 117 per cent increase up to a rough figure of AU$20.4 billion.

Considering the business and personal gains available from mobilising and trusting your workforce more, you have to ask yourself if the money lost on this issue would be better placed towards enablement of new ways of working.

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