New research published by global workspace provider Regus, to coincide with this week’s National Work Life Week, shows that the average British one-way commute is now nearly half an hour (29.6 minutes) compared to 26 minutes two years ago.
A quarter of the 3,600 business people canvassed in Regus’ research said that their journey to work took between thirty and sixty minutes, with 15% regularly travelling for over an hour each way. Employees in large firms appear to endure the longest commutes, clocking up a one-way average of 39 minutes.
This is despite all the evidence that shorter commuting times boost employee productivity, motivation and work-life balance.
Commuting is often linked to the persistence of presenteeism in the British workplace. In a previous study, only two fifths of employees in large firms told Regus that managers in their company are being recognised and rewarded for encouraging flexible working, compared to just over half in small firms. Similarly, nearly eight out of ten respondents in large firms, and seven out of ten in SMEs, agreed that managers are most likely to consider employees arriving early and leaving late as the most hard-working.
Steve Purdy, Managing Director at Regus, commented, “Employers need to encourage healthier working practices that benefit all staff, not just working parents.
“Cutting lengthy journeys to work should be top priority for any work-life balance initiative, which means offering staff a choice in where and when they work. Our experience of helping firms harness flexible workspace that promotes a more modern attitude to work shows that there are many organisational and practical challenges to address too – but the rewards are substantial.”
One example of a small company that has reaped the benefits of cutting unnecessary commutes is Lucid Communications, a communications consultancy in West London. During the recession the firm adopted a virtual business model, using a Virtual Office from Regus, dispensing with their old full-time physical office in Chiswick.
Paul Townsend, Director, explains, “The decision to close our office was initially cost-driven, but it quickly proved to be an all-round better and healthier way of working. The time we save on commuting translates into extra family time, or sometimes extra work time, and we feel less stressed and more motivated.
“Working remotely actually galvanised the team, as it requires greater effort to communicate effectively and that brought new discipline and focus. We don’t miss our old office at all.”
Lucid’s staff and associates now work at home, at client sites or at Regus centres, where they also hold regular face-to-face team meetings. Paul adds, “It’s a cost-effective model too: our annual costs for the VO and workspace when we need it are a third of what they were for our old office.”
Previous research from Regus has shown that over two fifths of flexible workers put in longer hours when they don’t have to commute every day, highlighting the link between flexible working and productivity.
Regus has 300 business centres in the UK, and a global network of 104 countries. www.regus.co.uk