Four Compelling Reasons to Ditch Your Commute - 11 June 2019

Four Compelling Reasons to Ditch Your Commute

It's Monday morning and you are stuck in a line of traffic that hasn't moved at all in 20 minutes. Or maybe you're crammed into a carriage only too aware of what your fellow passengers ate for tea. Yet, it seems commuting still is a necessary evil of working life; a chore we all must endure.

Throughout our working lives, many of us will spend hundreds of hours travelling to and from our workplace. It's not just the soul-destroying aspects. Or the time wasted. According to recent scientific studies, commuting can have very real negative effects on your health and well-being.

Research shows the shorter the commute the better people feel. In fact, a Time Out magazine study from 2018 found that Londoners enjoyed a commute 15 to 30 minutes more than sex! 1,000 workers asked in San Francisco for a study, said that the ideal one-way commute was 16 minutes.

As technology has improved and wi-fi connectivity more reliable, many businesses have embraced the tangible benefits of remote working. It seems, there's never been a better time to ditch the commute.

So what benefits can you derive?

1. More time = better health

It's simple. If you no longer need to travel to and from work, you'll automatically have more time. For your family, friends and yourself. You may get some of the things you're always dreaming of, done!

More time, naturally makes you more relaxed. Improved physical and mental health can make us more productive at home and in our jobs. Research finds that the benefits of having more time are wide-reaching.

The sleep advice website Tuck found that that there was a direct link between lack of sleep and long commutes.

While many people consider a power nap on a commute a plus point, it has been found that, in general, commuting has a negative impact on sleep.

In fact, commuting equates to most people doing less of what can benefit them. Sleeping, exercising, socialising and making food at home. Economist Thomas James Christian found this to be the case after analysing data from the American Time Use Survey.

Having time to sleep and exercise will boost our memory and improve concentration, while massively reducing stress.

Avoiding the office and public transport will also massively reduce your chance of catching that cold that has been doing the rounds in your place of work.

2. Better relationships

Being healthier and more comfortable is likely to improve the relationships around you. With reduced stress and better health, you'll be less irritable and better company.

A study from The University of North Carolina indicates that having good friends is the key to a long and healthy life. These supportive relationships lead to better health all round.

Gaining time in the evenings can give parents more time to devote to their children before bedtime. Nurturing those important bonds. Not missing out on precious time with young children is another huge benefit of ditching the commute.

Norbert Schneider, a sociology professor at the University of Mainz, found that 60% of long-distance commuters and their partners complained they had insufficient time to spend with their family. Often "quality time" was only found at the weekend or during holidays.

Some studies, have even found that you are 40% more likely to get divorced if one person in the relationship commutes for more than 45 minutes a day.

This scope for better relationships expands into your working life as well. One of the key stresses of office working life can be the negative people you have to spend time with. Working remotely, you can choose who you work with and when.

3. Help the environment

Climate change is arguably the biggest issue we face and many people are asking how they can have a personal impact on improving the situation.

Reducing the number of journeys we make, will have a big impact. Every gallon of fuel burned creates about 20 points of Co2 emissions. It makes sense that reducing the number of vehicles on the roads for prolonged periods of time will help make significant emissions reductions. You can be a positive statistic in this.

As an example, in the UK alone Regis found that 115 million travel hours could be saved by 2030 if they all turned to flexible working options. That would save over 7.8 million tonnes of Co2. That's a lot of carbon emissions reduced, although not as much as the 100 million tonne savings that would be the result of the same activity in the US!

Job satisfaction is more closely linked to environmental responsibility than ever and remote, flexible working is a personal way to work with positive impacts on the environment.

4. Bridge the gender pay gap

It is possible that ending commuting and embracing other ways of working, like working from home and using co-working spaces could help close the gender pay gap.

According to the Office for National Statistics, currently, women still take a larger share of the childcare responsibilities often limiting them from taking positions within 15 minutes of home. This is limiting to the opportunities they can take on and gaining higher-paid roles.

Conversely, 61% of people who travel for more than an hour to get to work are men. Embracing new working options can level the playing field.

Remote home office working and other flexible working spaces, can help widen the job pool for women without them having to increase their commuting time and work at the detriment to other responsibilities.

Ditching your commute can have massive positive impacts on your life, your health and your relationships making up happier and more productive.

But embracing new types of working will also put you in the middle of a work revolution that can change wider society for the better.

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