Why WFH is bad for you: The daily commute is good for your mind and your waistline, scientists say
- University College London study suggests commuting helps work-life balance
- Some 45 per cent of 3,000 people surveyed felt more productive in the office
- Meanwhile 50 per cent admitted to snacking more while working from home
The daily commute has long been a source of complaint, with overcrowded public transport and expensive travel costs making the experience feel like a slog.
But a new study has found that travelling to and from work each day actually has a positive impact on your mental health and helps you keep off the pounds.
Neuroscientists at University College London (UCL) said physically going to the office boosts wellbeing because it allows employees separate work and home life.
Human interaction also plays a vital role, they said. And the commute keeps people active and removes the temptation to snack on unhealthy food from the fridge.
Half of the 3,000 people UCL surveyed said being in an office put them in a better mindset for work.
And 45 per cent of people in the study said they felt more productive in the office as they could share ideas with colleagues without having to schedule a call.
Meanwhile 50 per cent admitted to snacking more while working from home and 43 per cent said they were more distracted – with household chores, deliveries and longer lunches being the biggest culprits.
Working from home (WFH) guidance was finally dropped in July, more than a year after workers were sent home as part of the first lockdown.
There has been fierce debate about whether employees were more or less productive at home and what effect it had on their mental health.
Almost half of the 3,000 people surveyed by the study said being in an office put them in a better mindset for work (file photo of commuters in London)
It comes after a study indicated that towns and villages across the UK could see a major financial boost thanks to the growth of hybrid working because of the pandemic (file photo)
Lead author Joseph Devlin, professor of brain sciences at UCL, told the Times: ‘The commute delineates boundaries between home and work life and can be used to switch one off and transition to the other, which can have a positive impact on cognitive performance, wellbeing and productivity.
‘Just going to work generates more diverse experiences than working from home, especially through interactions with other people.’
The UCL study found that admiring the scenery by train was branded the ‘best part’ of heading into the office for 55 per cent of respondents.
A quarter said it was the chance for some ‘me time’, including reading a book, listening to a podcast or catching up on emails.
However, it’s thought that spending too long on the daily commute can have the opposite effect on mental health.
It comes after a study indicated that towns and villages across the UK could see a major financial boost thanks to the growth of hybrid working because of the pandemic.
A graph showing the increase in the number bus and Tube journeys in London as the capital continues to open up
A graph for the number of tap-ins at North Greenwich Tube station, showing usage is nearing pre-pandemic levels
This graph shows the average congestion for days in 2021. It does not go up to the first day of this week
Research by the International Work Place Group (IWG) and design company Arup found rural and suburban economies ‘could generate up to an extra £327million a year’ due to the forecasted expansion of flexible office and co-working spaces to meet the growing demand for hybrid work.
Towns that have experienced major increases in demand for office space include Bromsgrove (153 per cent), Marlow (66 per cent) and Evesham (58 per cent), according to the research.
The study also estimated that more than 4,000 new jobs can be created to support office workers who look to cut down on commuting and work from locations closer to where they live.
IWG said its research suggested that almost 50 per cent of all office workers would ‘quit their job’ if they were asked to go back to their office on a permanent five-day basis.
IWG predicts that the change will see dramatic changes to commuting times – which is currently on average around 58 minutes in the UK.
More than two-thirds of people don’t think workers will return to the office full time after the Covid pandemic
More than two thirds of people think that workers will never return to the office full-time after the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll.
Around 70 per cent of people surveyed by YouGov said workers would ‘never return to offices at the same rate’ as before the pandemic.
Senior leaders surveyed by the polling organisation warned continued working from home will damage creativity.
A study from researchers at Microsoft released last week also said that working from home reduces creativity, as well as communication and teamwork.
It comes after Boris Johnson revealed his ‘Plan B’ for tackling Covid over the winter and threatened to bring back wide-scale working from home rules if infections soared.
The news sparked fury from pubs, shops and small businesses, but the new survey suggests that the majority of workers would still prefer to work from home either full-time or part time.
The new BBC survey also said that more than three-quarters of people believe their boss will allow them to continue to do so.
Despite this, the survey also acknowledged the negative aspect of remote workin with more than 60 per cent fearing that young people would struggle to progress without face-to-face contact or in-person mentoring.
The research suggests that inequalities might also be worsened – though half of workers think women’s careers might be boosted by working from home.
Home working could be set to return after being eased over the summer after Mr Johnson’s top medical and scientific advisers warned this week that ‘winter is coming’ and he might need to ‘go early and go hard’ with restrictions.