We’ve spoken before about the importance of your office location, and within our previous articles on the subject we specifically discussed how the daily commute may have a notable effect on your staff and as such travel times and transport links should certainly not be overlooked. Well, as if to prove our point, a new study recently conducted by the University of the West of England has revealed that every extra minute spent travelling to and from work reduces job and leisure time satisfaction, increases strain, and worsens mental health. In fact for some, a twenty-minute increase in commuting time has the same negative impact on job satisfaction as a 19% pay cut.

The study, led by Dr Kiron Chatterjee of UWE and based upon the analysis of 26,000 workers in England, concluded that in an effort to offset the negative impact of lengthening commuting times, more people should be allowed to work remotely from their own home or a nearby public space. Failing this, employees and employers alike should look into alternative means of transport to and from the office.

With the average daily communing time in England having risen from 48 to 60 minutes each way over the past two decades, this issue is only likely to become increasingly widespread if not addressed, leading to situation whereby poor morale and wellbeing causes employees to leave their established positions en-masse. This could end up costing the economy heavily in the process.

By far the worst affected are those travelling by bus; according to the study these individuals are far more likely to feel the negative impact of longer commute times as compared to those who cycle or walk, as the latter options are seen as an important part of a “health-enhancing lifestyle”. I myself used to frequently travel to and from the office via bus, and given the countless delays and cancellations I regularly experienced I am in no way surprised that this is seen as the least-favourable form of travel.

For those travelling by train, the length of the commute was shown to have a somewhat surprising effect. For these individuals a longer journey was found to be generally preferable as commuters were “better able to use their journey time productively”, while those on shorter journeys often fall victim to more crowded and stressful urban lines.

Younger workers, as well as those on lower incomes, were found to be less affected by long commutes, a fact which is attributed to “an acceptance amongst these groups that long commute times are unavoidable”. Women, on the other hand, were found to be impacted to a greater degree than their male counterparts by long commutes aboard public transportation, which is “likely to be related to greater household and family responsibilities”. I would also argue however that the many well-documented cases of women experiencing downright unacceptable forms of harassment while travelling by public transport may also exaggerate this negative association, though this is not mentioned within the report.

While job and leisure time satisfaction were reduced by longer commutes, overall life satisfaction did not fall because workers “take on longer commutes for good reasons relating to improving their employment, housing and family situations and these factors serve to increase life satisfaction,” the report states.

“This does not mean that the negative subjective wellbeing impacts of longer commutes can be disregarded. The acceptance that a long commute is a price to pay may only persist if it is considered unavoidable and a social norm,” said Dr Chatterjee. “An important message for employers is that job satisfaction can be improved if workers have opportunities to reduce the time spent commuting, to work from home, and/or to walk or cycle to work – such commuting opportunities are likely to be good news for employee wellbeing and retention and hence reduced costs to businesses.”


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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