United Kingdom

Yearly average commuting time equates to two weeks, and £5.3bn in lost productivity

July 2019


  • Employees spend equivalent of 360 hours a year travelling to and from work
  • Staff in construction, accommodation and food services industries face longest commutes
  • Long commutes cost businesses billions in lost productivity and adversely affect employee health and wellbeing


Commuting on bus

Employee commutes have become so long that they are the equivalent of a two week period, research has revealed.

The average commute is just under 45 minutes per journey - or 1.5 hours a day - but added up over the space of a year, the total length of the average daily commute reaches a total of 360 hours a year.

The research, carried out by Vitality, is part of a longitudinal study in collaboration with RAND Europe and Cambridge University into Britain’s Healthiest Workplace. To date, researchers have spoken to over 26,500 UK employees about their working habits and general wellbeing.


Lost productivity


Those working in construction, accommodation and the food service industries face the longest commutes. Long commutes not only cost businesses around £5.3bn a year, but employee health and wellbeing are also adversely affected.

Those who commute for more than hour in one direction are 22 per cent more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation while the research found that nearly a third (27 per cent) of UK workers are travelling to and from work for more than two hours every day.

The Vitality research also found a correlation between productivity levels, health and wellbeing and the length of commute. Those who commuted for less than half an hour each day worked the equivalent of an additional 2.3 days per year and those who had flexible working opportunities were less likely to suffer from a range of health issues.


Flexible working arrangements benefit staff wellbeing


In particular, flexible working arrangements meant that employees are:

  • 50 per cent less likely to smoke
  • 30 per cent less likely to suffer from obesity
  • Half as likely to suffer from stress or depression
  • 23 per cent less likely to suffer from sleep deprivation.

Shaun Subel, Vitality’s director of corporate wellness strategy said: “Businesses need to wake up to the importance of offering flexible working. Our research shows that 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.”

Manie Viljoen, Strategic Consultant at Aon comments: “Comparative data between 1988-92 and 2013/2014 shows that although time spent commuting has increased, there has been a decline in commuting trips per person – in part due to an increase in flexible working and employees commuting to work fewer days per week. There’s an increasing trend for home working; there are 373,000 more employees working from home than 10 years ago.

This data also shows that commuting journeys have increased, both in distance and time. There’s an opportunity for employers to proactively support employees with flexible working options and incentivise healthy commuting to offset the health implications of a sedentary commute.”


Benefits Strategy Banner

For more information or to discuss any of the issues outlined in this article, please get in touch by emailing us at [email protected] or call us on 0344 573 0033.


Aon UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 00210725. Registered Office: The Aon Centre, The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AN.