Long commutes 'increase risk of depression, obesity and damaging employees' productivity'

Longer commutes appear to have a significant impact on mental wellbeing

Zlata Rodionova
Monday 22 May 2017 13:00
Employers urged to offer flexible working to combat stress and falling productivity
Employers urged to offer flexible working to combat stress and falling productivity

Hours of commuting may be mind-numbingly dull, but new research shows that it might also be having an adverse effect on both your health and performance at work.

A study of more than 34,000 British employees across all UK industries conducted by VitalityHealth with the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, found that workers with a commute of less than half an hour gain an extra seven days' worth of productive time each year when compared to those with commutes of 60 minutes or over.

Longer commutes also appear to have a significant impact on mental wellbeing, with those commuting longer 33 per cent more likely to suffer from depression.

They are 40 per cent more likely to have financial worries and 12 per cent more likely to report issues due to work-related stress.

The same workers were inclined to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night and are 21 per cent more likely to be obese.

The results demonstrate just how important a daily work routine is in influencing workers’ health and work performance, according to Shaun Subel, director of strategy at VitalityHealth.

“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,” he said.

“Allowing employees the flexibility to avoid the rush-hour commute where possible, or fit their routine around other commitments can help reduce stress and promote healthier lifestyle choices and, importantly, this is shown to actually impact positively on productivity,” he added

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