The power of the daily commute

Wednesday September 19, 2018

Ah the daily commute, what does yours look like? Do you dread leaving your house each morning for fear of traffic or delays? Or do you relish the head space to listen to your favourite podcast or read a book? Perhaps you are of the few amongst us that has an exhilarating and adrenaline fuelled journey to work.

The average Australian commute is 16 km, with almost 7 out of every 10 people opting to drive. Other popular methods of commuting include: taking public transport, cycling or walking.  Elsewhere in the world, it’s not unheard of to get to work by swimming, flying or even zip lining!

The influence on mood

However you commute, your method of travel may vary greatly to others around you. It’ll depend on factors like your location, working hours and personal interests. And with such a broad range of journeys taking place, it’s safe to assume that the daily commute can also influence mood.

Is the employee that walks to work experiencing the same stresses as the one that deals with persistent train delays? Or the parent who leaves earlier to drop off their kids on the way, only to be faced with traffic jams and a double delay?

Working on the way

How about the employee who works on the way to work? Recent international statistics show that in today’s “always on” culture, this type of commuter is becoming more common. A recent survey in London reported that 54% of passengers were sending work emails via the train WiFi on their journey to work. It may be productive for some, but overall what does it say about work/life balance?

Some researchers propose that with so many people using their journey to work, for work; the time spent should be included as actual working hours.

Getting the most from the moment

As an employer, you’ll want to be able to monitor or regulate the time that your employees are spending working out of hours before making any changes to their working day. If it appears that you have an “always on” employee, it could be worth having a 121 to discuss their workload and avoid burnout.

A proactive approach could be to suggest alternative ways for your employees to utilise their commuting time. Whether it’s book or podcast recommendations, brain-teasing puzzles, mindfulness apps or song suggestions for some carpool karaoke! Promoting downtime to your employees shows that you care about their wellbeing and are aware of stresses they may be facing outside of their working hours.

If an employee really does find working on their way to work the most productive part of their day, perhaps you can discuss flexi-time or agree an earlier leaving time to strike the right balance.

However you wish to tackle the power of the daily commute, your local HR Dept professional is here to help. Call us today for top tips on battling commuter woes amongst your workforce.

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