A commute time analysis is a great way to analyse how long it takes employees to commute from their homes to their workplace. This is particularly useful when deciding where to locate a new office. 

In this post, we’ll show you how to run an employee commute analysis to determine the impact of an office relocation. To do this, we'll be using the TravelTime add-in for ArcGIS Pro.

You’ll learn how to: 

  1. Calculate travel times by public transport between each employee’s postcode and the postcode of each of the three potential office location
  2. Use this analysis to decide which office location is the best option for the business
  3. Visualise what the new commutes will look like for employees once the new location has been chosen

To follow along with this tutorial, you'll need the TravelTime add-in for ArcGIS.

Get a free API key for the ArcGIS add-in

Contents

    What are the benefits of using travel time data for a commute analysis?

    There are several advantages to using travel time data when doing a commute analysis for office site selection. 

    1. Choose the most convenient office location for employees

    By calculating employee commute times, companies who decide to relocate can assess the impact of an office relocation on employee commute times and rule out locations that add a significant amount of time to an employee’s commute .

    2. Identify greener ways to commute

    You can also use travel time data to calculate employee commute times for different transport modes. This data can help you understand the potential CO2 emissions for employee commutes and identify alternative, greener methods of commuting such as public transport or cycling.

    3. Analyse proximity to local points of interest

    Alternatively, you can use travel time data to calculate a site’s proximity to key points of interest such as supermarkets and restaurants. 

    TravelTime offers a range of tools to perform this type of commute time analysis, such as creating a travel time matrix showing the commute times for possibly thousands of origins and destinations, and a routing tool that visualises individual employee commutes on a map.

    Example use case: Office relocation

    For the purposes of this commute time analysis walk-through, we'll use the example use case of a commercial real estate company that is helping a client decide where to relocate their head office in London. 

    With a shortlist of three locations, we’ll analyse how each of the locations will impact existing employees’ commute times.

    To follow along with this walk-through, you can get a free API key for the ArcGIS add-in here

    Step 1: Calculate employee commute times by public transport

    Create a commute time matrix

    We’ll start our GIS analysis in ArcGIS Pro, using the TravelTime add-in to create a commute time matrix that shows the exact travel time between an employee address and three potential office addresses. 

    Displayed below is a map of London with the office locations in blue (three in total, all located in Central London and numbered for convenience) and the employee addresses in brown (fifteen in total, spread across London):

    Map with office locations and employee address locations
    A map showing three potential office locations and fifteen employee address locations

    To calculate the travel times by public transport between employee addresses and the potential office addresses, we’ll use the TravelTime add-in to create a commute time matrix

    With all the individual travel times in one table, we can analyse the results further inside ArcGIS Pro or Excel to determine which office location is the best option for the business based on measures like the average travel time per employee. 

    The office location with the lowest average commute time in minutes will be the best location for our client. To fine-tune our commute analysis, we’ll set the arrival time to 9 am on a weekday, which is when employees are most likely to travel to work.

    To create the commute time matrix, we’ll use the TravelTime add-in’s Time Filter tool. Find the tool by clicking “Show the Toolbox” on the TravelTime menu bar on the ribbon interface and opening the Catalog pane in ArcGIS Pro. 

    Next, open the TravelTime Platform toolbar and double-click the Time Filter Simple tool. Use the following parameters to create the commute time matrix and run the tool:

    TravelTime Time Filter tool - ArcGIS Pro
    Creating a commute time matrix with the Time Filter tool

    The attribute table of the newly created Feature Class contains 3x15 possible commutes from each employee address to all office locations.

    A commute time within 24060 minutes contains a “1” in the “Reachable” column, meaning the destination is reachable from the origin within the maximum travel time, which was set to 4 hours (240 minutes). 

    The image below contains a snippet of the attribute table with an extra column containing all possible commutes in minutes instead of seconds (marked in red):

    Commute time matrix
    Attribute table snippet containing the commute time matrix

    What the analysis shows

    Now that we have our commute time matrix, we can use it to identify which office location has the shortest commute time on average and therefore would be the best location based on this factor.

    The resulting histogram shows that office location #3 is the best option for relocation, based on a mean commute time of 44 minutes:

    Mean employee commute time analysis
    A comparison of mean commute times in minutes for each office location

    Step 2: Visualise employee routes to work

    Now that we’ve found the office location with the shortest commute time, we can also visualise what the new commutes would be for individual employees by public transport. We can do this using the Routes tool within the ArcGIS add-in

    With the following tool parameters, we’ll visualise all fifteen routes to our best office location. We’ll also specify the output style to be “By transport type”, as this shows different transport types for each part of the route:

    TravelTime Route Simple tool in ArcGIS Pro
    The Route simple tool

    The tool produces the following map output:

    Commute routes
    Map output of the Routes tool: five commute routes specified per public transport type

    The attribute table from the Routes tool also has a directions column with detailed turn-by-turn directions for each commute segment:

    Turn-by-turn directions - TravelTime
    Attribute table with detailed directions information for each commute segment

    Use TravelTime for your next employee commute time analysis

    And that’s it! We’ve created a commute time matrix that calculates travel times by public transport between each employee’s postcode and the postcode of each of the three potential office locations.

    With this analysis, we’ve been able to determine which office location has the shortest employee commute times on average, as well as visualise what the new commutes will look like for employees.

    While we’ve used ArcGIS in this walkthrough, you can do the same commute time analysis with the TravelTime QGIS plugin and TravelTime Alteryx macros. With these plugins, you can also analyse commute costs by public transport.

    To get started with the TravelTime ArcGIS add-in, sign up for a free trial.

    Using QGIS or Alteryx for your commute analysis? Check out our plugins for QGIS and Alteryx.

    Want to learn TravelTime can help your business? Get in touch.

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