There’s no getting around the fact that for many Britons, the dreaded commute has been getting longer – and busier - in recent years. There are myriad reasons for this, from the concentration of jobs in large cities to the economics of modern living. For those employed in large conurbations, particularly London, lengthier commutes can partly be attributed to a steep rise in the cost of living in central areas, pushing commuters further and further out to cheaper satellite settlements. For others, a longer trip to work will always be a lifestyle choice, a trade-off for the tranquillity of a quieter life in a quaint market town or village in the evenings and weekends.

However, recent changes to train timetables in the UK, which came into force in May 2018, have meant that many people are having to travel even longer in the mornings and evenings, as services from some key commuter hubs are reduced in frequency. The changes have already proved a challenge for many – and could see some rethink their entire commuting strategy. With this in mind, Michael Page recently carried out a study* into how long UK workers would travel to get to their dream job in the morning:

  • Four in ten (39%) would be willing to commute up to 2 hours.
  • One in 10 (9%) would put up with travelling for over three hours for their perfect position – equating to a quarter of their entire day overall spent travelling.
  • Just under half (46%) said they would only be willing to travel up to an hour. 
  • Just 6% said that they’d put up with a trip of between 2 and 3 hours.

Commenting on the findings, Oliver Watson, Executive Board Director UK & North America, Michael Page, suggested that there are a number of factors people take into consideration when choosing a job – but that the time it takes to commute to and from work is a key one. “In today’s workforce, commuting has become a reality for many, potentially making the daily trip to and from the office incredibly stressful,” he explained. “As flexible working, an increasing need for work-life balance and the lack of suitable commuter infrastructure continues to dominate the headlines, it may come as a surprise to hear that so many people are willing to commute more than an hour to work in the morning. Our study clearly shows that when it comes to landing a dream job, the commute is not as much of a barrier for workplace happiness as people may think.”

The publication of the study came after a YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of Michael Page last year, found that 40% of UK workers are currently unhappy with the length of their commute. The message is clear from the numbers: the nation is willing to go to greater lengths than ever before to get into work – but only if it is for a dream job. 

That being said, studies carried out in recent years have highlighted the challenges that a longer commute to work brings – and it’s much more serious than boredom and the uncomfortable feeling of being trapped in close proximity to fellow commuters. A study carried out by VitalityHealth, the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer last year found that long commutes are bad for people’s health and productivity – contributing to depression, stress and obesity. With this in mind, we’ve put some handy tips together to help tackle those commuting blues.

1. Spend less on it

According to a 2017 Michael Page study, only a quarter (27%) of UK workers take advantage of all the employee benefits available to them. These packages can include interest-free season ticket loans for trains and cycle to work schemes, meaning that even if there is no way of cutting down on the time spent travelling, the cost can be kept to the minimum possible.

2. Vary it 

Even the shortest commute can start to grate when it becomes repetitive. So where possible, why not consider changing it up every once in a while? This could be a dramatic change, such as swapping a stressful motorway drive for cycling, or a small switch, such as getting off the bus a stop early and walking or running the remainder of the way.

3. Do less of it!

With new flexible working legislation coming into play in recent years, more and more Britons are able to tailor their hours than ever before. This could include starting and finishing later for some or working from home where possible for others, particularly towards the end of the week. The flexible working trend is only expected to grow over the coming years, with a recent Michael Page poll finding that 8 in 10 millennials (defined as those aged 18-27) consider flexible working to be an important factor when choosing a job.

To find out more about how we can help you land your dream job, browse our job listings or get in touch with your local office.

*Twitter poll of 2,435 25-49 year olds in the UK, May 18-20

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