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Is Commuting Ruining Your Happiness?

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I think we can all agree that commuting is the pits. If you can’t telecommute, then you’re stuck in the car for what can be hours. Is this ruining employee happiness?

We here at The Methodology Blog know all about how much of a drag commuting can be. We have spoken before about how telecommuting can improve productivity. Not only does it save on gas, but it helps employee retention rates. Some companies don’t offer this opportunity, so some are taking on the issue in a different way. CBS in Dallas/Fort Worth released an article about how commuting to work affects worker’s happiness. Author Dan Buettner says getting rid of an hour long commute would put an extra $40,000 in the bank. Many companies in Texas have been moving their headquarters to cities like Frisco and Plano to be closer to their employees. Toyota even got in on the moving action and will be moving to West Plano.

Kym Yancey, who is co-founder of a magazine called Live Happy, agrees that thinking of your employees’ commute when factoring in where your company will be located is a great way to improve satisfaction. Not only that, but it has a major impact on their productivity. Yancey explained:

You are going to do nothing but drive your happiness down by thinking about all the things that are wrong with your commute. Think about things that will bring you happiness and think about things that will trigger those things for you and get away from ‘ain’t this awful.

commute and employee satisfaction

© Flickr user Wonderlane

So what can companies do about this dilemma? If telecommuting isn’t an option, then perhaps opening a branch or moving to a more centralized location may be a great consideration. Commuting will always be necessary in an environment where being at the office in person is mandatory. In fact, we have talked about how to have a more productive commute. But is there any concrete proof that commuting does in fact affect your happiness and well-being? There is. In fact, a study was released in 2014 centered around this very issue. The Commuting and Personal Well-being study published their findings that support this claim. Below are the key points of their study:

Holding all else equal, commuters have lower life satisfaction, a lower sense that their daily activities are worthwhile, lower levels of happiness and higher anxiety on average than non-commuters.

• The worst effects of commuting on personal well-being were associated with journey times lasting between 61 and 90 minutes. On average, all four aspects of personal well-being were negatively affected by commutes of this duration when compared to those traveling only 15 minutes or less to work.

• When commuting time reaches three hours or more, the negative effects on personal well-being disappear, suggesting that the small minority of people with this commuting pattern have quite different experiences to most other commuters.

• Combining both travel method used and the length of time spent commuting showed that taking the bus or coach to work on a journey lasting more than 30 minutes was the most negative commuting option in personal well-being terms.

• The effects of more active forms of commuting such as cycling and walking on personal well-being varied with the amount of time spent traveling in these ways.

With this in mind, it is probably safe to say that if it takes your employees over an hour to get to work, you can bet that they aren’t very happy. This will surely affect how productive they are once they reach work. Looking for more ways to improve your efficiency? Try contacting one of our business improvement consultants!

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Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea transplanted from Illinois to South Carolina. She loves to write, read, and spend time with her dog and her family. Alyssa is very active on social media. She has been part of the AccelaWork team since 2013.
Alyssa Shea

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