Is your journey really necessary?
Every day people in Britain spend a grand total of 21.8 million hours travelling to and from work. The average worker spends 183 hours a year commuting, which is time that most of us could find a better use for. WorkWiseUK are holding their annual Commute Smart week at the moment, which has prompted the TUC to take another look at this issue.
We were pleased to find that average commute time had started falling in the period just before the recession got into full swing. After a steady increase from 49.2 minutes per day in 1998 up to 52.6 minutes per day in 2006, there was sharp decline between 2006 and 2008, taking the average down by 4 minutes in just two years. This is due to a combination of factors, but it seems clear that greater use of flexible working and homeworking have played a part.
Between 2006 and 2008 the number of people in employment (both employees and self-employed) in Britain increased by 543,000. The number of people working from home also rose sharply, by 291,000. Add in the growth of flexible working and flexitime, which helps people to avoid the rush hour, and the effect is a significant one.
Clearly sufficient investment in transport and good traffic management are also a key part of the equation, but by thinking about commuting in smarter way employers, workers and unions can also help to take the misery out of commuting.
Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton sums up the benefits of smarter commuting as follows:
“Policies such as staggering work journeys, home working, and encouraging cycling and walking, are enabling staff to get to work in a better way and in the process saving time and money whilst improving health and wellbeing. Now, being green and commuting smart have never made more commercial sense.
Apart from business and transport benefits, there are also environmental impacts of reducing the need to travel.
The average commuter driving an average car, covering the average commute distance will produce almost one tonne of CO2 per person per year. With 25 million people in the UK commuting, that is the equivalent volume of CO2 emissions that would fill 89,000 typical three-bedroom homes.”