In 2018, more than 1 in 4 (28.8 per cent) of British workers will spend 90 minutes or more of their time on their way to and from work.
On average, UK workers spend 1 hour and 36 minutes a day commuting, travelling 26.73 km in total. Not only does this detract from working time, it can also put a significant strain on personal lives. These results come from the latest survey conducted across six European countries by the Payroll & HR services provider SD Worx.
Just under half of UK respondents (49.4 per cent) say that, on average, they take less than an hour to get to and from work each day. Of the respondents who take less than an hour to get to and from work, just over half (26.1 per cent of overall UK respondents) take less than half an hour a day, whilst 23.3 per cent (of overall UK respondents) take between 30 minutes and an hour. Of the countries surveyed, the British spend the most time travelling. Workers in Belgium are next on the list with 24 per cent taking in excess of an hour and a half, while the Germans at 17.9 per cent, spend the least amount of time commuting.
In terms of distance undertaken, one fifth of UK workers (21.8 per cent) travel, on average, further than 40 km or even more each day, while over half 50.5 per cent travel fewer than 10 km. The commuting time tells us more than the commuting distance, because even if you only live 15 km from work, the amount of time your journey takes may vary greatly depending on the location, the availability of public transport and the means of transport.
Workers who spend more time commuting are more likely to look for a new job
There is a correlation between commute time and employee turnover. British employees who travel for 30 minutes or more each day are more likely to be actively looking for another employer, with 39 per cent doing so on average, compared to just 12 per cent of those whose commute is less than half an hour. The Dutch and the French are the most likely to be influenced in this way by a long commute, with 28 per cent and 25 per cent respectively searching for a change of job when their commute is an hour and a half or more. Workers in Belgium are the least likely to be discouraged by travelling, with only 8 per cent of those that commute more than 90 minutes a day actively considering a new job.
Working from home is part of the solution
A possible solution for long commuting times or distances is flexible working. In Europe, approximately one third (30.2 per cent) of employees have the option of working from home. Germany (31.6 per cent), UK (30.6 per cent) and Belgium (30.3 per cent) are very close to the average in terms of companies offering this. However, the Netherlands is leading the way with 40.1 per cent of respondents having the option, while French and Austrian workers are the least likely to benefit with 23.3 per cent and 25.4 per cent respectively being given the opportunity. People are largely happy with being given the option, with 53.3 per cent of British workers positive about it, but there are also 22.5 per cent who would not like to take up this option (perhaps because they prefer to work from an office, or live close to work) while 24.2 per cent have the option, but find it virtually impossible in their job to make use of it. However, employers do not allow everyone to take up the flexible working option and for some employees it is not practically possible. Of those who are not offered this option across Britain, 32.7 per cent are disappointed, 23.8 per cent are not interested and 43.5 per cent indicate that it is virtually impossible in their job.
There are many reasons for flexible working. Employees are given greater autonomy and experience less time pressure, enabling them to coordinate private matters more easily. This is significantly important with regards to ensuring a better work/life balance and improving efficiency. The long commuting time and the time saved are two important factors, as remote working is well received by employees who have to travel for a long time.
British employees like to work from home several days a week
More British employees work from home several days a week, compared to the other European countries, with 24.4 per cent doing so. However, not everyone is taking advantage of the opportunity and nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of UK employees rarely or never make use of the option to work from home. Of the European workers who have the option of flexible working, 30.7 per cent rarely or never make use of it and 12.7 per cent use it one day or less each month.
Across the UK, those most likely to take advantage of work from home initiatives are regularly between 30-45 years of age, with 31 per cent of this age group working remotely several days a week. Meanwhile, workers aged over 45 are the most likely (21.4 per cent) to work from home once a week.
“Flexible working will provide a limited contribution to solving the mobility problem,” said Jeremy Campbell, Chief Commercial Officer, at SD Worx. “In addition to remote working, many other items need to be considered to address the wider mobility issue. As well as a coherent and cohesive government mobility policy, employers must also consider a sophisticated integrated mobility policy for employees that optimises and jointly addresses accessibility, commuting and employees’ transport options.”