• Mark Cherry

Is commuting really still necessary?

“One day offices will be a thing of the past”

Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group)

It is my belief that remote working is going to take off over the next few years and businesses are going to start incorporating remote workers into their hiring and growth strategies. This is the first in a series of blogs exploring the upsides and the downsides of remote working from both an employee and an employer perspective. Commuting is the logical first place to start as it is normally the first thing you do before you actually start work each day...

Family matters

Commuting has always been seen as a necessary evil but is it really necessary? Aside from the obvious benefits like saving time and money there are several other benefits to abandoning the commute.

If you are working from home already then your commute is dependent on the size of your house and where your dedicated work space is located. If you are taking an hour to get to your home office each morning then you seriously need to rethink your house layout. It is important to remember that a dedicated workspace is a key ingredient in ensuring productivity but that will all come in a later blog.

When I think of commuting one story always comes to my mind that changed my entire perception on what an appropriate commute was. I remember when my son was born and I had a sudden realisation that in my current job I would be leaving the house every morning before he woke up and I wouldn’t get home until after he had gone to sleep. This meant that I would never see my son (awake) from Monday to Friday which caused me to feel quite upset, as I am sure it would with any first time parent. Before this realisation my commute had never been a concern and I would often commute for over an hour each way if I had to but now it was something I had to consider very carefully if I ever wanted to see my son during the week. So for anyone who wants to spend time with their family, maybe commuting isn’t the best use of your time.

Save the planet one car trip at a time

I think that there are alot of people who will be grateful that the days of cramming yourself onto an overcrowded tube, tram, bus or whatever other public transport you used are coming to an end. If you were lucky enough to drive into work then wave goodbye to the time you spent stuck in traffic jams or searching for a car parking space. Let’s say you were one of the very fortunate who not only had a luxury company car but you also had a reserved parking space right at the front of your office with your name and job title on a plaque. Surely there is not much of an upside for this person; however, even if you are stuck in a traffic jam whilst driving your Bentley or Rolls Royce, you are still stuck in a traffic jam. All this before you even start to consider the amount of money you save on fuel. If you are using less fuel then you are also having a positive impact on the environment so it really is a win win. Less cars, less congestion, less carbon emissions means that Greta Thunberg will be able to sleep a little easier and you will have contributed to a healthier planet.

Better work/ life balance

Imagine a world where you were able to work a full time job, get to spend lots of time with your family or friends, exercise, eat healthy food and even get the washing done. Such a world exists…

According to TUC, 59 minutes is the average commute time in the UK which means that every year the average commuter spends 14.9 full days travelling to and from work. That is nearly three full working weeks that you would be able to claim back if you didn’t have to commute anymore. Just take a minute and think about what you could do with all that time.

A lot of people often think of a good work/ life balance only benefiting the life side of the coin but there are massive benefits for the work side too. Employers will be able to get more out of their employees, they will be more productive as they are not tired from early get ups or frustrated after being stuck in traffic for 60 minutes. Don’t forget the cost implications for employers, lots of organisations are offering bike to work schemes or annual public transport passes. What if you could invest these funds into better software for your employees enabling them to perform their duties faster or to a higher standard? Sounds like a good idea right?

It has often been people’s perception that a good work/ life balance is very difficult to achieve but that is not the case. It is still challenging even when working from home as the lines between work and home life can become blurred but it can also make some things a lot easier. Parents can drop off/ pick up their children from school without having to leave early to ensure they make it into the office on time. People won’t get stuck in traffic and end up being late for work even when they leave on time. People will be able to fit in that jog or workout routine before they start work leading to better mental health and wellness; seriously, just ask Joe Wicks.

As you can see, in my opinion there are more reasons to stop commuting than there are to continue but don’t just take my word for it, give it a go and see for yourself. If you are lucky enough to work in a role that you can do from home ask your employer if you can work from home one or two days a week and see how it goes. You’ve been doing it during lockdown anyway so why not keep it going?

You can thank me later...

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