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40 (135) 2019
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Real Estate & Construction

How productive is commuting?

By IWG, the world’s largest provider of workspaces like Regus and Spaces on the Polish market
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The average urban commute in Poland is 41 minutes. The average Pole spends 340 hours a year just getting to work and back home. Employees are increasingly spending their commute engaged in work – but how effective that time is.

Few things are more frequently discussed in the office than the nightmare journeys that colleagues had to face navigating their way into the office. Whether it’s cancelled trains or fellow passengers disrupting the peace by listening to loud music, precious hours can quickly evaporate away, leaving workers behind on the day’s tasks before they have even sat down at their desks.

Challenging commutes are a global problem. Rio de Janeiro has been rated the worst city in the world to commute in with workers in the Brazilian city spending an average of over 90 minutes getting to and from work each day. For commuters living in the city who drive to work rather than take public transport, this equates to 756 hours per year waiting in traffic.

Long commute became a problem in Poland as well. Łódź, Warsaw, Kraków, and Poznań are the most crowded cities - reports TomTom. According to the PageGroup research, the statistical Pole spends 41 minutes commuting each day. It is very close to the European average, which is 42 minutes. More than half of the respondents declared that they tend to arrive late for work. These are just statistics, but from our observations, some Poles living in the capital city struggle with over one hour-commutes to get to work.

Although those living in London fare better on public transport, those who use their car to get work spend around 386 hours yearly stuck in traffic. In fact, people living in the British capital have the ninth worst commute in the world, and the worst in Europe. In the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, spending two hours each day commuting is now a reality for many workers, who are travelling further, and for a longer amount of time, to work each day.

As commutes become longer, people are increasingly using the time to do additional office work. Findings from the 2019 IWG Global Workspace survey show that 42% of people think that official working hours should include time spent commuting to and from work, as this is not ‘free time’, with 48% of respondents stating that they usually carry out some work tasks while commuting to and from work, such as making phone calls and responding to emails. In addition, more than half of respondents (51%) think that businesses should subsidies the cost of commuting for their employees.

However, being able to work on the commute is one thing, but is the work you are doing really that productive? Research shows it’s quite the contrary. Lack of seating, loud noises and unreliable wi-fi all contribute to work not being done as efficiently as it could be. Long commutes are also stressful, which itself is rarely conducive to productivity. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Montreal concluded that the more time spent commuting, the more susceptible workers are to chronic stress.

Further research shows it takes only 20 minutes of being in the car, or on a bus, bike or train for workers to be susceptible to chronic stress. Long-term, this can result in physical and emotional exhaustion, which in turn can seriously hamper productivity. The Global Benefits Attitudes survey attests to this point, finding that levels of workplace engagement significantly decrease when employees experience high levels of stress.

To help support workers to be productive, it’s logical that businesses should look for solutions to help alleviate the commute. Flexible working enables employees to arrive at a desk within a stress-free commutable distance from their homes. Employees living in suburbs and small towns are then able to access all the facilities they require from an office, such as high-speed wi-fi but closer to home.

As evidenced, employees are more productive when less stressed, which ultimately leads to better outcomes, higher retention of talent and success for your business.
 
Find out more about how flexible workspace could help boost your business here.

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