On-site facilities are becoming increasingly common on different sites all over the UK. With roughly 11 per cent of the UK labour force coming from overseas – and with workers coming from all part of the UK – organisations need to do more to support their workforce, who have families living further afield.
Luke Rothwell, Managing Director at Bunkabin, introduces on-site facilities and explains the benefits they bring to not just staff from overseas, but all of your staff too.
Introducing on-site facilities
On-site facilities are purpose built enclosures that provide workers with everything they need to work and live temporarily, without the need to travel home during a project. Some units have specific purposes such as offices, eating areas, shower blocks, and toilet blocks.
Some on-site units go a step further and are basically, a home away from home. They can have things like an en-suite shower, a cooker, microwave, sink, a bed, and even a living room. If you are struggling to picture this, then try and think of a home that can be put on the back of truck and carted anywhere in the world and you will be pretty close!
Cancelling out the commute
Most of the time, some workers live on-site out of necessity instead of choice. When projects demand it, it makes sense for workers to remain on-site after their shift ends instead of traveling home. In the case of 11 per cent of the UK’s workforce, getting home is not as easy as catching the commuter train home.
Two-hour daily commutes are becoming commonplace in the UK. The Office for National Statistics studied commuting habits for people across the length of the UK and, with London leading the way, some 931,000 commuters spend two hours getting to and from work. Outside of London, this figure aggregates to 57.1 minutes.
For 931,000 people in and around the London area, travelling to and from work takes up four hours of their working day. With London responsible for 23 per cent of the 700,000 jobs created by UK firms in 2015, workers with family located long distances away from the capital have tremendous difficulties seeing family and friends.
In the case of UK workers, instead of spending long hours commuting to and from work, on-site facilities represent an opportunity for firms – seeking to provide opportunities for their workers – to enjoy a better work-life balance. Many on-site structures now contain everything you could need to live away from home for a sustained period of time. For non-UK workers, on-site facilities represent a lifeline for those that came to work in the UK alone, without real knowledge of the area, language or customs.
Not to mention, employees will save on their commuting fees too. Instead of spending a fortune on public transport or vehicle expenses, employees will finish their shift and walk to their accommodation; to relax in the evening.
Reducing your carbon footprint
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, and on-site facilities represent an opportunity for organisations to make a meaningful contribution in reducing the carbon footprint of their employees.
According to research from We are Cycling, the transport sector emitted 24 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, with road transport accounting for 93 per cent of carbon dioxide in 2015. By investing in on-site accommodation, organisations can eliminate their employees need to commute to and from work. Instead of travelling by car, train, plane or any other carbon consuming method of transportation, your employees will walk to and from their accommodation once their shift ends.
Despite economic uncertainty brought around by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the UK economy remains the fifth largest in the world, according to research by Fullfact. Despite Brexit, tenants in the UK are continuing to see a rise in rent, with a 2.3% increase record in the year to September 2016, according to data from the ONS. The same study shows that house prices increased by 8.4% in August 2016.
With inflation at a four-year high, and the cost of living rapidly increasing, on-site facilities represent an opportunity for organisations to step in and help employees live somewhere affordable while they’re working. A mess facility will also make sure employees have somewhere suitable to eat and drink, giving them the energy to continue working.
Help with mental health
One in three sick notes issued by GPs in the UK are for mental health issues. With workplace induced stress and anxiety at record levels, employers are being urged to do more to help with employees’ mental health. It is especially important for working class men, with research from Public Health England showing that male, low-skilled workers are 3.7 times more likely to commit suicide; compared with the national average.
On-site facilities may represent an opportunity for organisations to help with employee mental health and boost overall workplace happiness and productivity. As mentioned earlier, nine per cent of construction workers in the UK are from overseas – with this figure rising to 25 percent in London. For these workers, if they have not made the move to the UK with family, it can be challenging for them mentally. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common and on-site facilities go a long way to combatting this.
Whether it is with employees from overseas or in the UK, building a community of workers in a similar position encourages comradeship between workers. A simple dining facility encourages your workers to sit, dine and talk with one-another. Finally, the stresses of commuting can be reduced with workers simply heading to their purpose-built lodgings to relax for the evening or already being on site the following morning.
Luke Rothwell said: “A happier workforce is a more productive one. We’re really proud that our founder Frank Rothwell has long championed the rights of construction workers and their facilities. As a matter of fact, when he was hammering away creating the very first Bunkabin on his driveway back in 1979, Frank had construction site workers in mind.
“But it was not until just over ten years later, when the UK emerged from a recession, that Frank had his eureka moment. It came to Frank’s attention that many construction workers were dying every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning by making do with totally inadequate on-site accommodation and wanted to change that.”
On-site facilities represent an opportunity for your organisation. By keeping your workforce happy and accommodating for their changing needs, you will be ensure that you retain the very best of your staff. You will also reduce factors that could lead to your employees suffering from mental health issues and improve their overall quality of life.