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Long commutes linked to depression, obesity and money worries

Posted: 23 May 2017


Train delays, belated buses and overcrowded stations can make commuting a taxing affair. However, new research by VitalityHealth and its partners the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, have identified long commutes as a causal factor in a number of troubling health issues.

The study, titled Britain's Healthiest Workplace, surveyed some 34,182 workers and established links to health and wellbeing woes such as obesity, money worries and even depression. As such, employers are being urged to adopt flexible working strategies in a bid to improve productivity levels and overall employee wellbeing.

The study found that employees whose commute lasted less than 30 minutes had seven more days' worth of productivity than those whose commute duration surpassed 60 minutes. In addition to damaging productivity levels, long commutes were also linked to a 33% increase in the likelihood of suffering from depression and a 37% increase in the occurrence of financial concerns.

The compilation of these factors would be enough to lose sleep over – and people do. The study found that employees with commutes longer than 30 minutes were 46% more likely to be over-tired due to not getting the required seven hours of sleep, and were 21% more likely to be obese. Time scarcity and stress were found to be two of the main offenders, with employees struggling to find the time and money to make healthy decisions, such as exercising after work.

However, the remedy is clear and comes in the form of flexible working. As Chris Bailey, partner at Mercer, explains: "Employers can positively impact their employees' lives by looking at working policies and financial wellness programmes to support those who are juggling multiple commitments."

Lengthy commutes are one of the key drivers behind the recent upsurge in remote working. Newly published data from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that the number of employees who work from home had increased by 152,000 last year, equating to a 7.7% increase or 1 in 16 workers.

Has your company embraced flexible working practices yet? It's a benefit that many marketing candidates are already asking for. And if you're a candidate and your daily commute is getting you down, take a step in a new, more flexible direction and sign up to our job alerts today.


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