Employees with long commutes have higher levels of stress and reduced productivity

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Long commutes are having a detrimental effect on employee health and productivity, according to new research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace.

Of the employees with a journey of 60 minutes or more, a third (33%) were more likely to suffer from depression, 37% more likely to have financial worries and 12% more likely to suffer from work-related stress. But it isn’t just mental health that is affected by long commutes, as 46% of employees were more likely to get less than seven hours sleep each night and 21% were more likely to be obese. The research indicates that these issues factor into how productive an employee can be.

The study also considered the impact of flexible and home working on employees’ health and productivity. The ability for employees to work flexibly seems to alleviate the mental and physical health issues that long commuters face. In addition to being less likely to be depressed, stressed, obese or get insufficient sleep, employees who work flexibly also had an additional five productive days a year compared to their commuting counterparts.

Shaun Subel, director of strategy at VitalityHealth, said: “These results demonstrate the significance of the daily work routine in influencing individuals’ health and productivity. Beyond looking at ways that the work environment can be altered to make it more conducive to improved health and wellbeing, our research suggests that employers should perhaps be looking at flexible working arrangements as a more prominent part of their workplace wellness or productivity management strategy.”

Comparatively, employees who work exclusively from home were the least likely to be productive, losing 29 days each year, which is far more than those who commute and work flexibly.

Chris Bailey, partner at Mercer. “A number of factors combine to create this time scarcity, but carer responsibilities and increased commuting times at peak hours due to a lack of availability of affordable housing close to workplaces, are key issues. Employers’ can positively impact their employees’ lives by looking at working policies and financial wellness programmes to support those that are juggling multiple commitments.”