Ask HR Series – Getting Creative with Employee Commutes

Ask HR Series – Getting Creative with Employee Commutes

Xenium’s Senior HR Business Partners know a lot about human resources, and we want to share their knowledge and insight with you! Each week, we publish a question from you, our readers, and our experienced HR leaders provide thoughtful, helpful advice addressing your HR dilemmas. Submit questions by emailing them to or by clicking on the chat icon at the bottom of this page. We are excited to partner with you…one HR question at a time!

This week’s featured HR expert is Rich LeBlanc.


Traffic is getting really bad around our office. My employees are frustrated by the heightened commute times. What can I do to help them?

Portland’s traffic has been rough lately, especially with all the bridge and road construction taking place this summer. We have clients shifting schedules by two to three hours just to stay out of that mayhem.

But whether or not you can do something like that depends on your company’s industry. If you’re in manufacturing, your employees have to be in the warehouse behind machines. This is not a job they can do remotely, and you may have strict schedules that require people to be working at certain times. However, we do have clients in this industry shifting schedules to accommodate worsening traffic. If this is your situation, weigh your schedules with your employees’ frustrations and see if you can find a compromise.

On the flip side, you have companies like Xenium and many of our clients who have remote capabilities. At Xenium, we do a lot of flex-scheduling, and this can be beneficial for avoiding bad commutes, either by driving to the office during lighter traffic or working from home altogether.

In a remote-work situation, make sure you’re keeping your employees engaged. Keep in touch with them over the course of the day. You need to feel confident that they’re actually doing their work. Obviously, if you give them that freedom and flexibility, you need to be able to trust them to get their work done.

When employees are working remotely, consider ways of communicating with them beyond conference calls and phone calls. Look into tools like Zoom and Skype, which allow you to have face time with your employees while they work remotely.

When you’re faced with horrific traffic, be as flexible as you can with employee schedules and work shifts to minimize stress, lost work time, and employee frustration.

Julie Matthiessen

As Sales & Marketing Coordinator, Julie supports and collaborates with the Marketing Director and VP of Sales & Marketing to develop content and execute marketing strategies, as well as provide customer service and support to potential clients. She also contributes internally at Xenium as a member of the innovative culture development group XCITE.