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Commute the commute: Cut travel time through flexible working

The daily commute into work can feel a grind at any time. But in the colder months having to wait on chilly wind-beaten platforms, or scraping a thick layer of frost off car windows each morning just adds to the burden. Then there's the increased likelihood of delayed or cancelled services, traffic jams and road closures because of bad weather. When the commute begins to feel more like an odyssey, it's no wonder that many employees arrive at work feeling tired and stressed. It's hardly the recipe for a productive day's work.

The average Briton spends an hour a day commuting. In a typical week, a quarter of UK workers commute for the equivalent of a working day. But if they can carry out their duties effectively at home or nearby, perhaps employers should be asking what the purpose of all this back and forth really is. Would they be better served by a fresher, more productive staff working elsewhere?

An increasing number think so. Two in five workers are now able to work at home or somewhere nearby for at least half the week, according to recent research. Around the same proportion said they were able to work longer because of the saved commuting time, pointing to a direct link between flexible working and improved productivity.

The survey also found a positive impact on wellbeing and work-life balance. Two-thirds said working flexibly meant they could spend more time with their partners and family, and three in five said they put the time to good use in the gym or exercising. A happier, healthier workforce tends to be more engaged and better performing.

Half of respondents said that current technology enabled them to work from anywhere. Some employees miss office camaraderie when working from home and have found a solution in going to a 'third place', such as a nearby library or business centre.

Acas provides an array of related resources for employers and employees, such as the Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance and a number of training courses aimed at promoting Work/life balance including through Work/life balance.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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