Londoners spend more time commuting each day than any other region in the UK despite having some of the shortest distances to travel to and from work, according to research produced exclusively for the Evening Standard by specialist recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional.
Londoners spend an average of 56 minutes per day travelling to and from work. This is the highest average commuting time across all of the UK regions. However, the time spent travelling by Londoners is not matched by the distances they have to travel. On average, Londoners travel a total of 15 miles a day, the third shortest average daily commuting distance in the country[i].
The economic downturn has affected commuting trends in the capital. Workers in London now travel three miles less on average compared to 2008, before the downturn took hold. However, average commuting times have remained unchanged over the same period at 56 minutes. This suggests Londoners have not only moved closer to their places of work, or found jobs closer to home, but they are now using slower – and possibly cheaper – modes of transport to commute. The cost of a seven day travel card for zones 1-4 has risen 26% over this period[ii].
Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional, said: “Traffic, lack of parking and the outright cost of driving in London means the vast majority of workers in the capital rely on public transport to get to and from work. Often commuters are at the mercy of multiple public transport services and this can lead to longer commuting times. Factor in the rise in cost of using public transport in London over the last few years and it’s little wonder commuters are choosing to live closer to work and potentially using cheaper methods of transport.”
Londoners Under Pressure
Nearly one in five Londoners (18%) feel under pressure to work while they commute, while one in ten (9%) say if they didn’t work while they commute they would not be able to perform their job effectively. Over a quarter (27%) say that new technology such smartphones and tablets has allowed them to be more productive on their journeys by allowing them to work should they need to.
Methods of Transport
One in four Londoners (25%) use a car to travel to and from work, while 24% use the London Underground, 17% choose to travel by bus and 13% rely on the train. London has one of the highest proportions of commuters who travel to and from work by bicycle at 3.8%. The East Midlands is the only region with a higher proportion of cycling commuters at 4.3%.
London has the highest proportion of commuters who work while they travel compared to anywhere else in the country. One in ten Londoners (10.4%) work while on the move, this is higher than the national average of 7.5% and is the highest proportion across all regions in the UK. The most popular activities for commuters (including drivers and car users) are listening to their own music (17.6%) and reading a newspaper, magazine or book (17.6).
When drivers and car users are excluded from the analysis, the activity trends shift slightly with reading a newspaper, magazine or book the most popular activity at 21.5% and the proportion of commuters who work falling to 9.6%, suggesting that even some Londoners commuting by car are taking work calls while on the move.
Tara Ricks, said: “In a tough economic environment, employees are under pressure to demonstrate their value to their employer and committed high-flyers are out to impress. This is manifesting itself as more employees work outside normal hours while they’re commuting.
“Many commuters choose to relax and unwind from work while travelling in order to maximise their work/life balance, however, a growing number of savvy Londoners are using their commute to extend their working day and become more productive.
“The growth of new technologies such as smartphones and tablets mean it’s easier than ever to work around the clock. However, it’s critical employers ensure their staff are able to switch off. Our analysis of the British workforce last year shows the average Brit already feels they’re spread too thin, having to work the equivalent of a six and a half day week. In the long-run, there is a danger of staff burning out if they’re unable to disengage from work completely”
[i] Research of 2,000 consumers conducted by Canadean Research between 28th March and 1st April 2013 – further details available on request
[ii] Historic fares from TFL http://londonist.com/2011/11/london-transport-fares-2000-2012.php
Current fares http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14416.aspx