Long commutes are having a significant impact on people’s health and cost UK businesses an estimated £5.3bn, an analysis shows.
The study found this to be equivalent to 20 million working days.
Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, a study of nearly 26,500 workers, shows 27% of employees in the UK have long commutes of over 60 minutes, which means approximately 8.7 million employees are travelling for over 120 minutes a day.
The average daily commute lasts 43 minutes one way, which equates to the average Brit spending more than 360 hours every year commuting to work, equivalent to more than two weeks of annual leave.
Employees who commuted for less than half an hour per day had the equivalent of an extra 2.3 days’ worth of productive time available to them each year.
People that commuted for over 60 minutes each way were 22% more likely to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, when compared to workers with short commutes.
The sectors clocking up the most amount of time commuting were found to be the construction, accommodation and food service industries.
The study suggests many employers are making adjustments and putting in place initiatives to better manage the impact of a long or stressful commute, in particular around making home working arrangements available to employees.
Employees who are able to work flexibly were half as likely to be stressed or depressed, 50% less likely to smoke, 30% less likely to be obese and 23% less likely to get insufficient sleep. These employees were shown to have almost eight additional productive days each year compared to those with no flexible working arrangements.
The study found an increase in the amount of people able to work flexibly from 52% to 59% in the past two years.
Shaun Subel, director of corporate wellness strategy at Vitality, said allowing employees the flexibility to avoid the rush-hour commute where possible, or fit their routine around other commitments, can help to reduce stress and promote healthier lifestyle choices.