Long commutes costing firms a week’s worth of staff productivity

25 May 2017


Long commutes are causing poor health and productivity outcomes for the nation’s employees, according to research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace.


The study of more than 34,000 workers across all UK industries examined the impact of commuting as well as flexible and home working on employee health and productivity.


Key findings from the research include:


  • Long commutes linked to higher levels of stress and reduced productivity

  • Employees commuting less than half an hour have extra seven days’ worth of productive time each year

  • Flexible working helps improve health and productivity but working from home shown to have no positive health or productivity impact.


The study found that employees commuting less than half an hour to get to work gain an additional seven days’ worth of productive time each year compared to those with commutes of 60 minutes or more.


Longer commutes appear to have a significant impact on mental wellbeing, with longer-commuting workers 33% more likely to suffer from depression, 37% more likely to have financial concerns and 12% more likely to report multiple dimensions of work-related stress. These workers were also 46% more likely to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night and 21% more likely to be obese.


Many employers aim to mitigate the impact of a long or stressful commute by offering flexible or home working arrangements to employees. The study showed that flexible working has a positive impact on both employees’ physical and mental health and their productivity. Employees who are able to work flexibly were less likely to be stressed or depressed, and were also less likely to smoke, be obese or get insufficient sleep. These employees also had an additional five productive days each year compared to those with no flexible working arrangements.


However, the study’s results suggest that working from home does not bring the same benefits. Employees who were able to work from home but did not have flexible working arrangements were in fact the least productive, losing 29 working days each year – even more than those with no home working or flexible working arrangements.


Read the full press release from Vitality.