Commuting can help improve work-life balance

The benefits of commuting are largely dependent on the type of commute, and that other routines to break up the work day are just as effective.

Nearly half of employees are expecting some form of psychological benefit and improved work-life balance when they return to the workplace, research has suggested. However, experts have cautioned that daily commuting could still harm wellbeing.

As more people return to the workplace, a study by University College London (UCL), commissioned by the Rail Delivery Group, found that almost half (48 per cent) of people returning to the office expect to experience improved mental health, while 46 per cent expect to have a better work-life balance.

The research polled just over 3,000 working-age adults across the UK. 

A commute could have a positive impact on cognitive performance, wellbeing and productivity between home and work life and can be used to switch one off and transition to the other.  Just going to work generates more diverse experiences than working from home, especially through interactions with other people.

This greater novelty helps generate new memories, making each day more unique, sharpening recollection and reducing this ‘brain fog’ so commonly experienced during lockdown. 

However, other experts have cautioned that daily commuting might not always be good for wellbeing.

While acknowledging that commuting can act as a useful divide between home and work life, it could also be a source of stress, particularly for those travelling long distances.

Many people who’ve embraced home and hybrid working say the biggest benefit is not having to travel to work every day.  It’s important that employers recognise views and opinions on the commute differ, and the working arrangements they offer should reflect this fact.

Commuting was only a positive experience when workers are able to make it enjoyable and productive, giving people a chance to plan or reflect on their day.

Routines can be very beneficial to our mental health, though similar effects can also be achieved through other mindful activities like walking the dog or doing some other form of exercise, if we are disciplined enough to do these daily. 

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