Commuting leads to “lower life satisfaction… lower levels of happiness and higher anxiety”, according to new research. It’s also expensive and bad for the environment.
At Regus, we encourage employers and governments to do everything possible to make it unnecessary and these days with cloud-based technology, smart phones and video conferencing, people don’t always need to be in the office every day. In the meantime, how can we make commuting less draining and more productive?
Don’t travel at peak times. We all know that rush hour slows down traffic, often to an infuriating stand still. It’s when you calculate the cumulative effect of the time wasted that you really see how corrosive commuting is. For example, according to the TomTom Traffic Index, a one-hour car journey in Johannesburg would take an additional 43 minutes during peak traffic periods. On a 30-minute commute, that’s 96 extra hours a year in traffic.
Alternatives to rush-hour commuting include working from home first thing and then travelling to the office post-rush hour. Alternatively, work at the office for some of the week and at more convenient locations on other days. In South Africa, 53 per cent of executives work flexibly for at least half the week. Follow this example for a less stressful commute.
Use your commuting time better. If you drive, use the car audio to learn or practise a foreign language. New qualifications and skills could increase your earning power, or help you get a job where less commuting is required.
Car pooling is an opportunity to network, as well as save money on fuel. If you share the driving with colleagues, you can brainstorm en route, catch up on news or gain insights into other parts of the company. It’s a more productive use of time than listening to drivetime radio.
Switch to flexible working. Instead of commuting to the office for a couple of hours before heading off to an external meeting, work at a business centre or drop-in workplace close to the meeting venue. With wifi, office equipment and workspaces wherever people require them, many journeys to and from the office are redundant. This strategy could also save you money, not only in reduced fuel costs but on E-tolls also.
Cut out your commute altogether. When face to face meetings become too time consuming or costly considerer joining the growing number of business people who use state of the art video conferencing technology to cut out the need for travel altogether.
Finally, an idea for the future: turn your car into an office. Regus and Rinspeed are working on an innovative self-driving car concept that transforms the car interior into a comfortable and connected workplace. The car pilots you safely to your next meeting while you get on with your job, and the front seats even swivel round to create a four-person meeting space.
Around the world, there’s a yearning to cut down on commuting and people are clear about what they would do with the extra time. Globally, 75% would spend more time with family or partner; 54% would use the time for work, and 76% would get fitter. The ideas above will help you do this already. Welcome to a happier and more productive working life.
By Rona Sauer, Area Director Cape Town & P.E, Regus
 ‘Commuting and Personal Well-being’, Office for National Statistics (UK), 2014.
 ‘TomTom South African Traffic Index 2013’, TomTom.