The Real Cost of Commuting

NEWS   8 July 2022

What is the Real Cost of the Commute?

Despite enthusiastic promotion of remote working and flexible ‘hot desking’ in the business pages, it remains far from commonplace. There are still 81.2% of the working population that regularly commute to a fixed location in the UK. Petrol or train fair costs, seem to rise at a wallet punishing rate and the cost of a commute to work is something that must be considered when taking any job, a high cost commute can make that pay rise so much less significant by the time it reaches your account.

The average motorist travels 18.6 miles a day to get to and from work. With the average car costing around 59.6p per mile to own and run, driving to work costs the UK worker on average £15,496 a year. While a season ticket from Reading to central London will set you back just shy of £5,000.

However, there are other costs to a commute; the cost on health, time, personal wellbeing, and achieving the elusive work life balance. Often the biggest effects on long commutes to work tend to be stress-related health issues, and the impact upon personal relationships and performance at work. As a result of this there has been a shift in the priorities of job hunters. Now the economy is stronger, companies are increasing their workforce, and employees that are unhappy where they are now have the confidence that they can find something better. They are choosing an agency with local expertise because finding something closer to home is being seen as a key part of the package. People are looking to further their career while not sacrificing other personal priorities.

On average we spend over a year of our lives getting to and from the office, a total of 10,634 hours (443 days). Workers in London endure the longest average commute (74.2 minutes) followed by the South-east and East (56.4 and 56 minutes respectively). Those in Wales (41 minutes) and the South-west (44.8 minutes) enjoy the shortest journeys to work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst possible commute for your personal happiness is a journey of 30 minutes or more on a bus. On a global scale, the effects of commuting are only too plain to see, contributing to air pollution, global warming, urban sprawl and traffic congestion.

Long hours of commuting, especially if you’re driving, are associated with high blood pressure, musculoskeletal disorders, increased anger and resentment at work, absenteeism, lateness, and an inability to concentrate and perform to the same standards as those who live in much closer proximity to the workplace.

Coping with the Commute:

What can companies and employees do to help limit the negative effects of the daily commute? Some companies, like Google and Virgin, have realised the damage that long commutes can have and have become pioneers of promoting flexible working locations. Allowing employees to work from home as often as possible. This can reduce the impact caused by the daily grind of getting to and from work. For example, you can produce a document at home and send it via e-mail to the office instantly. You can even hold a meeting with other staff members and clients via video or teleconferencing.

However, for some jobs, there is no escaping the daily commute. Preparation the night before can help. Sorting out clothes and lunches for both the worker who has to commute and any children they might have can often prevent a ‘panic stations’ scenario first thing in the morning. Finding a little time for a family breakfast ‘get together’ has been shown to help a lot in relieving stress, although, for many, that’s not always possible.

If all else fails, and the commute is just not as fun as it used to be it may be time to ‘Cut The Commute’. Across the Thames Valley we are lucky to have a wealth of large organisations that provide a variety of challenging roles, working with exciting products and brands, and plenty of opportunity for career growth. Find your next role in WokinghamSloughBracknellMaidenhead or Reading area – get in touch with Bucks and Berks Recruitment and see how we can help.

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