Workers are commuting less. How are they spending that extra time?

Posted on: 14th April 2023

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Lockdown may be a dim and distant memory, but one welcome leftover is that, for many of us, the arduous daily commute has become a thing of the past.

According to a study from Stanford University, Americans have saved 60 million hours per day on commuting since the pandemic, a trend that is reflected worldwide. In the UK alone, remote working saved employees over 8 billion hours in 2022.

This reduction in commuting is great news for workers' finances — data highlighted inthis IWG white paper reveals that, in 2019, US commuters lost an average of $1,377 sitting in traffic congestion. But the benefits aren’t simply monetary; it’s having a positive impact on their health and well-being too.

And the reason fewer of us are crowding onto a packed train at rush hour? Hybrid working.

Hello hybrid, goodbye commute.

Since the pandemic, millions of workers have adapted to dividing their time between a local flexspace or satellite office, home, and a central HQ. This approach has plenty of commercial benefits, with businesses worldwide reporting that their employees are at least as productive when working remotely as they were when working full-time at the company HQ.

But the positives don’t stop there; employees are thriving in the absence of regular long commutes. A recent survey found that 96% of staff believe spending at least some time working away from the office is one of the most positive parts of their job.

And IWG's latest research offers some reasons why. The survey of over 2,000 workers shows that the benefits of the hybrid approach are significant, with many using their extra time to engage in healthier and more fulfilling activities.

A healthier, happier workforce.

These activities include spending more time cooking. Banished are the bad habits of grabbing a cereal bar as we run out of the house, and drinking a sugary latte as we board the train. 70% of those surveyed said hybrid working allows them time to prepare nutritious meals every day. Workers are eating more fresh fruit and vegetables (46% and 44% respectively) and a quarter have cut their intake of sweets compared to life before 2020.

As well as eating healthier, workers are also more active. Before the pandemic, the average hybrid worker was exercising for 3.4 hours per week. Now, they're managing 4.7 hours of walking, running, and gym-based activity. This has resulted in some remarkable weight-loss statistics, with 42% of workers losing between 5 and 9.9kgs and 23% losing more than 10kgs.

And we shouldn’t overlook another important lifestyle benefit: working closer to home allows workers to get more sleep — up to 71 hours extra a year.

World-renowned healthcare professional and GP Dr. Sara Kayat, who partnered with IWG for the latest study, reflected on its findings. “There is no doubt that hybrid working has facilitated some major health benefits," she said. "A balanced diet, physical activity and good quality sleep are the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle, and this data suggests that each is more widespread due to the extra time afforded by a hybrid working model.”

Of course, healthier and happier staff means increased employee retention rates, reduced absenteeism, and higher levels of creativity and innovation. This brings us back to the commercial benefits we touched on earlier.

A boost to your bottom line.

Hybrid means that workers get to call the shots on when and where they can do their best work. For deep focus, there’s the quiet area of a local flexspace. For face-to-face meetings or bouncing ideas around the wider team, it may be worth making that trip to corporate HQ.

Many business leaders agree this balance is the best for their bottom line. According to a survey by law firm CMS referenced in this IWG white paper, nearly half (46%) of 1,500 senior managers felt that a mixture of home and office provided the best work environment for employee productivity.

And because employees have the freedom and flexibility to accomplish tasks at a time that suits them best, there's less 'presenteeism' or 'productivity theatre'. There are also fewer interruptions — which according to research by Basex cost the US economy more than $500bn a year.

Hybrid working is critical to staying ahead in the race for talent too. Last year, 88% of office workers told IWG that hybrid working is the leading employee benefit they would expect in a new role.

The main takeaway for business leaders is that if their workers are spending less time commuting, it’s a win-win for everyone. As IWG CEO Mark Dixon says: "Organisations that have adopted hybrid working are not only seeing healthier and happier workforces, but more engaged and productive teams.”

Find out more about how Regus can help you harness the power of hybrid working for your business.

Topics in this article

  • Productivity


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