What A Zero-Hour Commute Means For India And Its Startups
It is fair to say that commuting to work, for many of us, can be the most testing part of the day. This is something that is collectively experienced around the world on a daily basis. According to Inc, in the USA the average commute time is a 50-minute round trip. Moreover, in the UK, researchers found that adding an additional 20 minutes of commuting per day has the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a 19% pay cut.
India is clearly no exception to this phenomenon. In fact, a number of Indian cities have been ranked as some of the worst in the world for commuting. According to the website Car and Bike, Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata are within the top 10 worst cities in the world for commuters. Additionally, Bangalore has repeatedly been highlighted as one of the worst cities in India for commuting.
These chaotic commutes are problematic for numerous reasons. When a city struggles with long and troublesome commutes this can lead to worryingly high levels of pollution, something that India is currently struggling with on an unprecedented scale.
On Wednesday, Education Minister Manish Sisodia announced that all schools in Delhi will remain shut till Sunday due to the city’s hazardous levels of air quality, which only appear to be worsening. This has not gone unnoticed online as many Reddit users have taken to the popular sub-Reddit /r/India/ to voice there concerns, discuss what or who is to blame and how this situation can be remedied.
However, startup locus.sh is still seen by many to have provided the right answer to the problem of commuting. The Bangalore-based logistics platform is offering a zero-hour commute for its employees in the form of fully furnished homes, only a five-minute walk away from their office, provided for them by the company.
“We noticed that the most productive & fun time in our lives was living in close quarters with highly capable & driven people in hostel, during our engineering college days,” says Nishith Rastogi, the CEO of Locus who graduated from BITS Pilani, to the Office Chai. “We wished to replicate the same environment at Locus, where we take the cognitive load of living away from our team. This allows them to work with full focus, which is critical to solve open research problems, without worrying about buying groceries or paying their phone bills”.
While the innovative startup might not be setting out to tackle smog or climate change, this is certainly a positive byproduct. Furthermore, Rastogi raises an important point, as this approach can help mitigate the aforementioned psychological stress of commuting. By removing the commute, Locus claims to empower their employees with full focus, ultimately leading to a more positive work environment, less stress and better overall output.
Rastogi’s description of a hostel environment from “college days” is also very reflective of a movement occurring in the US. Silicon Valley and other tech hubs have launched locations such as StartupHouse across the country. These facilities enable entrepreneurs and startup employees to live and work together, adding to the increasingly popular trend of co-working spaces.
Silicon Valley has been famous for its employee perks such as Google’s free meals, or Facebook’s free gyms. However, this appears to be a perk that could do a world of good, not only for staff and employees but also for the greater community. Plus a shorter commute means more time to lie in, everybody wins!