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Should companies pay workers to live near the office?

Posting in Energy

Maybe there's a middle ground between companies like Yahoo banning its workers from telecommuting and employees working from home five days a week: paying employees to live close to work.

The reality is that workers travel long distances to get to work. In the U.S., 600,000 full-time workers spend three hours a day commuting. The average commute is 25 minutes. I don't know about you, but when I'm stuck in traffic for too long I get cranky (and my best work doesn't come when I'm cranky).

To promote less travel time between home and work and increase employee happiness, Silicon Valley-based company Imo started offering employees $500 per month to live within a five-mile radius of work. But besides saving time on commuting, Imo found that the subsidy has led to other benefits, Fast Company reports:

Imo has found there are secondary benefits, too. A five-mile radius (plus Palo Alto’s climate) makes active commutes, via bike or foot, more likely. Employees find they’re able to pop home during their lunch break to take care of a few quick chores. Those who have dogs are saving on doggy day care or dog-walker fees, since they can run home to let Fido out for a spell. There are family-related perks, too: Ralph Harik goes home around lunchtime these days to visit his 9-month-old daughter.

Of the company's 20 employees, 19 have taken up the offer.

Fast Company doesn't look into a cost-benefit analysis of a live-near-work incentive for the company, but, if you're of the mindset that happier employees are good for business, this is a good idea.

By Paying Employees To Live Near The Office, Imo Cuts Commutes, Ups Happiness [Fast Company]

Photo: Flickr/Viewminder

— By on March 25, 2013, 9:00 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure