Long commutes are major source of poor health and low productivity

Long hours spent commuting to work are some of the main causes of poor health and low productivity, according to a large-scale study from the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace index, a joint venture between insurer VitalityHealth, the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer. According to the study of more than 34,000 workers, people commuting less than half an hour each day to get to work gain an additional seven days’ worth of productive time each year compared with those with commutes of 60 minutes or more. Longer commutes also appear to have a significant impact on mental wellbeing, with workers who have a long commute 33 percent more likely to suffer from depression, 37 percent more likely to have financial concerns and 12 percent more likely to develop various forms work-related stress. These workers are also 46 percent more likely to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night and 21 percent more likely to be obese. The research suggests that offering flexible working is the best way to mitigate the negative effects of commuting.

It claims that employees who are able to work flexibly are less likely to be stressed or depressed, and are also less likely to smoke, be obese or get insufficient sleep. They also have an additional five productive days each year compared with those with no flexible working arrangements.

The study also suggests that working from home does not necessarily offer the same benefits. Staff who are able to work from home but do not have flexible working arrangements are the least productive, losing 29 working days a year, even more than those with no home working or flexible working arrangements.

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