Study shows how stressful the commute to work can be

Eavanne Allen

Research by the University of the West of England has suggested that adding just 20 minutes to your daily commuting time can have the same negative impact on your job satisfaction as taking a 19% pay cut.

However, if you look at the study’s central findings the other way round, it can be seen that securing a new role involving a decent increase in salary can certainly improve job satisfaction, even if your new office takes that bit longer to get to. For example, if your new salary is 15% higher, and your daily commuting time increases by 10 minutes, the study suggests that your job satisfaction levels should improve.

It does of course mean, however, that remaining in the same job, on the same salary, while the length of your commute increases is not a recipe for happiness. Sometimes our commuting times do increase over the course of a particular job – this might be because traffic congestion increases, or public transport services are cut, or we decide to move further away from the office due to family reasons.

Average one-way commuting times in England have risen from 48 minutes to 60 minutes over two decades, according to the study. One in seven employees spend at least two hours per day getting to and from work.

The study did suggest, however, that some ways of commuting are much less stressful than others. Those walking or cycling to work, who receive the health benefits of their commute, were the most satisfied. Bus travel was found to be the most stressful way of getting to work.

However, although the study found in general that job satisfaction decreased as the commuting time increased, workers making long rail journeys to work got less stressed than those making shorter journeys. This may be because a longer journey allows you to relax, or actually to get some meaningful work done on the train; and also trains were often less crowded for those taking longer journeys.

If you’re looking for a new role, whether this is because the commute is too stressful, or for any other reason, then contact KennedyPearce today.

The university researchers also suggested employees could request flexible working to reduce commuting stress. You may for example ask to travel at less busy times of the day, or to work from home for at least part of the week. Your company must have a genuine business reason for refusing a request to work flexibly.