According to 2019’s Global Workspace Survey performed by IWG, two-fifths of all professionals worldwide consider the daily commute to be the worst part of their day. As a result, more and more businesses are introducing flexible working as a measure to cut down the time employees spend in traffic and transportation – ensuring a better work-life balance for employees.
75% of businesses are working flexibly
The survey reveals that when it comes to finding a favourable work-life balance, having to commute is one of the key obstacles standing in the way from achieving the desired equilibrium. One obstacle in particular, is stress caused by having to endure long commutes and being cooped up in crowded public transportation services for too long. For the most part however, employees try to make the most of their commute by attempting to get some work done, or by doing some light reading. All things considered, 40% of professionals still dread commuting every day, causing further negativity in the process.
But just how significantly does a lengthy commute influence the workforce exactly? The answer is quite a lot. When asked about their commute, over half of the respondents (54%) stated that having a choice of location matters more to them than working for a prestigious company. Taking this even further, 32% of respondents said it matters more than acquiring a high-prestige role within any company. When asked about their place of residence in regards to their commute, 25% of respondents claimed that they would rather live elsewhere, but the thought of a longer commute is holding them back.
That’s where flexible working comes in, as a more flexible approach towards a worker’s location can positively influence perceived stress levels. On average, 75% of respondents believe that flexible working effectively shortens commute times. Japan and Italy show the least amount of faith in this however, with respectively 60% and 64% of employees showing a positive response. Belgium, India and France, all scoring well over 80%, show the most favourable climate for reducing commute times by working flexibly.
The result? 75% of businesses are introducing flexible working as a way of reducing commute times, in an attempt to improve circumstances for both employer and employee alike. This exposes an important trend affecting the current workforce, as working circumstances begin to hold value over the job itself, forcing employers to adapt in the process.
Flexible working: the cure for the commute?
Regardless of whether employers actually adapt to meet the needs of employees, there is one thing most respondents agree on: commuting will be a thing of the past. The majority of workers believe that for most jobs, commuting will have disappeared entirely by 2035. Especially South Africans are highly optimistic in the regard, as 79% of people believes this to be the case.
“The idea of commuting for hours to work 9-5 in a dreary office is fast becoming as about as relevant as a fax machine in the working day.” – Mark Dixon, CEO IWG
However, the survey also uncovered that there’s still a big misalignment when it comes to defining exactly what it means to work flexibly. Supporting this, 28% of respondents believed that flexible working means being able to choose which specific location they work from solely. Moreover, it is revealed that this misalignment causes certain other key factors for successful flexible working to become ignored as a result. These factors include important business influences such as access to technology, data security and providing a quiet, workable environment. It’s not until issues like these can be solved, that businesses can start to truly make changes and adapt flexible working.
About IWG’s Global Workspace Survey: Having interviewed over 15,500 professionals from over a 100 countries around the world, this year’s survey maps out the opinions, obstacles and drivers for flexible working and how it is used internationally. Want to learn all the facts regarding flexible working? Download the full survey right here.