Commuting is time wasted – what would you rather be doing?

CommutingCommuting has been identified as one of the main causes of daily stress with lengthy journeys of over 45 minutes associated with poor sleep quality, exhaustion and bad health, according to a recent study by BMC Public Health.  It also reportedly takes its toll on relationships, with a higher likelihood of separation among commuters that regularly face a long journey to work.  To discover how workers would employ their time if they were able to cut down on their commute – and work more flexibly – Regus commissioned a survey canvassing the opinions of over 16,000 professionals across more than 80 countries. 

Respondents were given a choice of preferred activities, from spending more time with their partner and family, to spending more time working – which surprisingly an overall majority (54%) would choose to do. But it’s only when you dig into the country specific variations that the results become so intriguing. For example, the priority for Japanese and Canadian workers is to get fitter and exercise more, while Indians and French would choose to spend this additional time with their partners and family.  

  • The Japanese are the least inclined to commit this time to charitable work, with only 36% preferring that option, as opposed to 70% of Indian workers.
  • Indian workers are also the most diligent, with only 40% opting to spend the extra time in bed, and 72% preferring to spend the extra time at their desks.
  • Not the French though: 70% of their respondents would happily reset the alarm clock and carry on snoozing if commuting became a thing of the past. 

What would you do with the extra time if you could eradicate the daily commute?

Seth Godin: “We must face up to limitations”

The Only reason every project doesn't scale to infinity is that something runs out. Time, money, natural resources, new fashions, new customers… something is scarce.

The first question you need to ask about your project is: what's scarce?

The second: how do I get by with less of it?

Seth Godin’s Blog, June 2012 

Seth Godin on scarcity

Seth Godin (pictured) has this in exactly the right order. The key here is ensuring you have the right answer to the first question before you can address the latter. The answer may vary from small businesses to larger ones. 

As a business, we conduct a lot of research in this field under our Business Confidence Index series, and the results are often telling. In April, 49% of small business told us that a lack of access to cost effective capital was the key factor that contributed to corporate distress during the slowdown. The figure falls to 44% for large businesses. 

But when it comes to time, it seems that large businesses want more, with 43% of respondents identifying more flexible working conditions as the initiative that would do most to support stable growth, as opposed to only 34% of small business respondents. Do you buck the trend?  Or is there something else your business is finding scarce?

Why you should avoid working on holiday

You’re poolside on your precious summer holiday. The kids are splashing about and your other half’s buried in a good book.

So what are you doing? Are you reading too, or having a well-earned snooze?

Far from it. You’re checking your emails on your BlackBerry. Even a thousand miles from home, the ties that bind you to the office have stretched, but not broken. And half your mind isn’t actually on holiday at all.


Working by the poolside
I’ll be honest – I’ve done it. And it seems I’m not alone. Nearly half of the 16,000 people in 80+ countries surveyed by Regus admitted that they’ll be working up to three hours a day on their summer holiday. Another fifth will be putting in more hours than that each day. And just over a third admit they’ll be operating at just one notch below ‘business as usual’.

We shouldn’t be proud of ‘workcationing’. Being able to switch off fully is vital for our mental health. And as employers, we need to recognise that a burnt-out employee is no use to their family – or our business.

To keep our people healthy and happy, we need to think smarter about how they work all year round. We need to help them become more productive by bringing in the flexible working policies that will free up their commuting time and reduce their stress levels. And we need to lead by example.

So this year, I’ll be swapping my BlackBerry for a pineapple juice at the hotel bar.

5 companies who are getting work/life balance right for their employees

What makes someone choose one job offer over another, look for another job or just do their best at the job they have?

One thing’s for sure: there’s a lot more to it than money.

According to research from online recruiters SimplyHired a better work/life balance is the clincher for a third of the jobseekers. And a lack of work/life balance is the main reason employees head for the door, says a survey by recruiters Robert Half.

And when you consider that a whopping three quarters of UK employees think that work/life balance is key to how motivated they are at work (according to Mercer’s What’s Working Around the World survey), it’s clear that this is a trend businesses need to take seriously.

So who’s doing it well? Our 2012 Work-Life Balance Index showed that smaller businesses were leading the trend: 

Staffordshire-based Passionate Media, whose working mums and dads fit their hours around family commitments.

And in Singapore, law firm Rajah & Tann has invested in Blackberries and webmail addresses so employees – who were previously putting in long hours at the office – can work flexibly from home.

But bigger companies aren’t doing badly either. Like Manchester-based Kelloggs, who offer flexible working patterns, summer hours, job-sharing and study leave.

And over in the US, petcare giant Nestle Purina offers more than a dozen work/life benefits packages; it even has a ‘bring your dog to work’ policy.

Global professional services firm Accenture offers flexitime, compressed hours and telecommuting, as well as resources to help with childcare and care of aging relatives. In fact, half the company’s employees in the UK work flexibly – proof, if it’s needed, of the success of their work/life balance policies.

So from small start-ups to multi-million-pound businesses, everyone’s waking up to the importance of a good work/life balance. The question is, are you?

Can you afford to give your employees take more time off, work irregular hours or bring their dogs to work? What steps are you taking to improve your employees' work life balance?

Why our work-life balance is improving

You may feel that modern life is a constant juggling act between the commitments of work and home. But apparently, things are getting better: 24% better, to be precise.

That’s the finding of our new Work-Life Balance Index – a survey of more than 16,000 professionals in over 80 countries around the world. It looked at how much we’ve got on our plates and how happy we are that we’re getting the balance right, with surprising results:

Well over half of us (69%) enjoy work more now, than in 2010

Nearly 7 in 10 of us are happy with the amount of time we spend at home or on personal pursuits…

…And that’s despite the fact that a worrying proportion (63%) of us are working harder than ever as we’ve had to take on additional duties which haven’t been subsequently picked up by new employees

The majority of us (74%) feel that we’re achieving more at work than we were two years ago

So how’s this positive change come about? It’s simple: businesses have recognised that a good work-life balance makes people happier. And happy people are more productive. 

So lots of companies have taken steps to help, like introducing flexible working (41% of respondents say their businesses have tried to shorten commute times). And there’s always more we can do ourselves to get the balance right.

Here are five ways to improve your work-life balance:


1. Free up some time – some employers allow for shorter weeks of longer days, so take advantage and claw back an entire day or just an afternoon!

2. Get your working hours in order – establish regular times for leaving home/arriving to work, and for leaving work/arriving home. This way, both your employer and your family know what to expect, and when to expect you.

3. Prioritize – use to-do lists and categorise the items as ‘essential’, ‘important’ or ‘nice-to-do’. At a glance then, you’ll be able to see what’s urgent and needs to be done and what isn’t so important but could be done, so you won’t waste time doing unnecessary bits and regain time for yourself.

4. Ask for help – make use of support networks at home and at work. Coworkers can help you complete tasks when you’re feeling particularly overloaded, while family and neighbors can assist with household tasks, shopping and the kids. Everyone needs a hand sometimes, so be sure to return the favour.

5. Look after yourself – if you’re always tired, it can be tough to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Ensure you’re eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, and incorporate exercise into your routine as it can help to relieve stress and increase your energy levels. Try to establish a consistent sleep routine too, so you’re well rested and ready for the challenges each day brings!