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CEOs help employees struggling with long commutes

Morning traffic congestion heading eastbound on S.R. 836 bottles up near Northwest 57th Avenue on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.
Morning traffic congestion heading eastbound on S.R. 836 bottles up near Northwest 57th Avenue on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. El Nuevo Herald file

This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: How long is your typical commute to work and has it grown in recent years? Do you do anything to help employees who have particularly lengthy commutes?

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With the boom in South Florida in recent years, commutes have definitely been impacted. For those with lengthy commutes, I suggest listening to motivational books to keep you focused and deter you from texting.

John Benz, president, CEO, Community Care Plan

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Our commute has definitely become longer in the past several years as a result of increased traffic. We try to hire most employees within a 15-mile radius of our offices and distribution center. Those associates who live farther away are being helped with additional monies to cover some of their additional travel expenses.

Armando Caceres, CEO, founder, All Florida Paper

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My commute is six miles, but the congestion around Brickell has added an extra 20 minutes. We offer flexible schedules for employees who have the longest commutes or have child responsibilities.

Kelly-Ann Cartwright, executive partner, Holland & Knight Miami chair of the firm’s Directors Committee

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Assuming I leave at the height of rush hour, my commute is typically 20 minutes. This has not changed in recent years. For those employees with a longer commute, we try to accommodate their schedule and allow for them to arrive/leave during off-peak hours.

Ralph De La Rosa, president, CEO, Imperial Freight

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My commute has been pretty stable at 40 minutes each way for as long as I can remember. We try to keep the schedule very flexible for our employees. Most of our staff are at the office for about nine hours a day, including lunch, but our office is usually open for 12 hours a day, with most coming either early or late to avoid traffic.

Jalal Farooq, principal, Al-Farooq Corporation

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I live near a Metromover station and can easily walk to work — usually takes me less than 15 minutes. We do encourage our staff to use public transportation, especially if they live near the Metrorail, bus or Metromover station. I tend to move around with the metro and in that last mile I find it efficient to use a ride share application or taxi service.

Michael A. “Mike” Finney, president, CEO, Miami-Dade Beacon Council

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The commute to my office is approximately 20 minutes, and it has not changed in recent years. At UM, we believe in creating policies that give our faculty and staff the opportunity to thrive. We have implemented several strategies to help employees maximize their efficiency and spend less time commuting, such as flexible work hours and discounted public transit programs. We are also leveraging technology to encourage a more flexible work place, such as a cloud-based system that allows employees to work remotely.

Dr. Julio Frenk, president, University of Miami

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I am fortunate that I live very close to our headquarters, so my commute has not changed. As for employees with particularly long commutes, depending on their situation we offer flex hours so they can avoid peak traffic times.

Kaizad Hansotia, founder, CEO, Gurkha Cigars

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We all know traffic in South Florida is an everyday challenge albeit we get some relief during the summer. My commute can range anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. One of the reasons for moving our headquarters to Coral Gables in 2011 was to make it an easier drive for many of our associates.

Javier Holtz, chairman, CEO, Marquis Bank

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Traffic has certainly become a bigger problem in Miami, especially in dense areas such as Downtown/Brickell. Since I moved the Mast Capital office from Miami Beach to Coconut Grove, most employees have benefited from shorter commutes. My personal commute is 10 minutes. This convenience improves productivity and makes our days much more efficient. Time is the one thing we can’t make more of and spending it in a car is certainly not the most inspiring or productive. In planning the move, it was important to me that we move to a neighborhood that provided convenient access and in good proximity to our Central Business District without having to be in the heart of the congestion.

Camilo Miguel Jr., founder, CEO, Mast Capital

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We are a start-up working from a home office so my commute takes 10 seconds. I moved closer to my co-founder daughter, Rachael Kish (really, to be near my grandchildren), so her commute is 10 minutes. We plan to locate future facilities against the flow of traffic for most employees, allow employees to work remotely when possible and allow flex time when feasible.

Noreen Sablotsky, founder, CEO, Imalac

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My commute takes anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour to drive 11 miles. With Miami traffic these days, you must always be prepared to get stuck in a jam. For employees who live farther out, we have arranged flexible schedules to assist with the unnecessary stress of travel time. It’s an honor system — if you arrive late, you stay late — to make up the difference, thus removing the headache from the equation and not forcing management to police their departments.

Deborah Spiegelman, CEO, Miami Children’s Museum

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I would say my overall commute, now about 25-30 minutes, has grown modestly over the past few years with more and more people relocating to South Florida. I typically use this time productively by taking calls or getting up to speed on the overnight news with NPR. Sometimes, I’ll weave in some interesting podcasts and audiobooks. As to our associates, we routinely work to ease the burden of those who have the most significant commuting circumstances. WebEx, SharePoint and other efficient sharing tools help our company manage situations where people need to be off site. And, we continue to evaluate our flexibility for associates to maintain and recruit top talent.

Steve Upshaw, CEO, Cross Country Home Services

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