Long commutes ‘increase risk of stress and depression’

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Long commutes could be affecting employees’ health and productivity and in some cases leading to stress and depression, according to a new report.

Research by VitalityHealth found that workers who spend less than half an hour travelling to work gain the equivalent of an extra seven days of productivity per year.

Meanwhile, those with longer commutes were 33 per cent more likely to suffer from depression, 37 per cent more likely to have financial concerns and 12 per cent more likely to report multiple dimensions of work-related stress.

According to the survey, they were also 46 per cent less likely to get at least seven hours of sleep per night and 21 per cent more likely to be obese.

Flexible and home working are rising workplace trends as companies try to adapt more to their staff’s needs – but working from outside the office did not guarantee productivity.

Employees with flexible working provisions were found to have five extra days of productivity per year and were less likely to be stressed or depressed than those without.

But workers who are able to work from home were the least productive according to the report, losing 29 days per year in terms of productivity.

“These results demonstrate the significance of the daily work routine in influencing individuals’ health and productivity,” said Vitality Health’s Shaun Subel.

“Beyond looking at ways that the work environment can be altered to make it more conducive to improved health and wellbeing, our research suggests that employers should perhaps be looking at flexible working arrangements as a more prominent part of their workplace wellness or productivity management strategy.

“Allowing employees the flexibility to avoid the rush-hour commute where possible, or fit their routine around other commitments, can help reduce stress and promote healthier lifestyle choices and, importantly, this is shown to actually impact positively on productivity.”


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