A long way to the office becomes one of the causes of burnout. Employees of which countries are at risk?

According to The Statistics Portal, an unenviable record belongs to South Korea, whose residents get to offices in 74 minutes. In second place is China (56 minutes), followed by Turkey, Japan and Mexico (52, 50 and 49 minutes respectively). Russia ranks sixth in the top ten countries in the world where employees spend the most time commuting from home to work: the average Russian office worker spends 47 minutes on the road. The fastest to get to their home office are residents of Finland and Sweden (21 minutes) and the USA (26 minutes). Let’s dive into the fact, how a long way to the office interferes with effective work.

A long way to the office interferes with effective work

Rigid habits

Most domestic companies still work according to the standard rules of labor regulations. According to the survey, 80% of office employees have a working day that begins at 9:00 or 10:00, lasts 9 hours and ends at 18.00-19:00. Only 20% of respondents work in a flexible schedule. The working day for them begins around noon and ends after 20:00. This regime is typical for those employed in the service sector, IT, employees of travel agencies, individual entrepreneurs, event managers, lawyers, retailers, recruiters, as well as employees of foreign companies.

A rigid schedule set by management and mandatory compliance forces people to constantly travel to and from work during peak hours, which significantly – twice or more – increases the actual time spent by the employee on the road. And the situation with transport accessibility is not improving – public transport, with rare exceptions, travels slower than cars.

For the most part, time spent on the road is wasted time. According to a study by the Mail.ru for Business project, 47% of people listen to music on their way to work, 27% watch Internet resources. Two-thirds of respondents noted that they do not deal with work issues on the road. This is how the “road” minutes result in hours that have fallen out of life: for example, if a person spends two hours a day on the road, then they eventually turn into 40 hours a month and 480 hours a year. And this is already 20 days of vacation!

Zoom in

In the world, the “road” problem is increasingly being solved by introducing the practice of remote work. According to Regus statistics, only 32% of office employees work outside the main office 2-3 days a week or more, while abroad this figure is about 50%. At the same time, the demand for flexible schedule in our country is growing from year to year. According to our data, 45% of office employees are ready to refuse a suitable vacancy in the company, which implies a tight work schedule. Just over half said they wouldn’t have quit their previous job if they had a flexible schedule, and 89% would definitely prefer a flexible schedule. In general, 91% of employees perceive a free schedule as a tangible advantage: human-oriented working conditions help people spend more time with family and friends, play sports at lunchtime, work in a convenient place for themselves.

Among office employees, 43% of employees want to work in a free schedule mode, despite the fact that only 10% of employers are ready to take this step or have already taken this step. In such organizations, key workers are encouraged to work flexible hours on certain days or are allowed to work in a coworking space near home. This gives the company reputational “points” and the image of a progressive organization, and also increases the level of employee loyalty.

The first experience of transferring to remote work was mastered by high-tech companies – software and application developers, mobile operators, publishers, various online media. The publishing house “Mann, Ivanov and Ferber” from the very day of its foundation has been working using the “remote” format. The company has only a small office , where the accounting department sits and meetings are held. Almost all employees involved in the process of publishing a book (editors, authors, PR specialists, marketers, designers) work remotely. True, the company has a strict criterion for selecting managers primarily according to such criteria as personal responsibility, high motivation and organization.

One of the most famous projects of transfer to remote work implemented is the transition to the BeeFree platform of the staff of the mobile operator BeeLine. More than 60% of VimpelCom employees by the end of 2017 did not work in the office. The project of transferring employees to remote work in the company was evaluated positively. First, this format made people more responsible and focused on success, current tasks were solved more efficiently and faster than at the time when everyone was sitting in the office. Secondly, the company benefited from the point of view of the economy: according to various estimates, in 2017 VimpelCom reduced the cost of renting and maintaining office space by a quarter, with the scale of a mobile operator, we can talk about several million dollars.

There are other, more conservative solutions. An office employee can look for a job close to home and thus minimize the “road” time costs. But in the current turbulent and unstable labor market, it is certainly difficult to do this. Despite the fact that 72% of employees would like to change their jobs to a more convenient one in terms of transport accessibility, in reality, only 18% are ready for such a step. Another 16% would consider the possibility of renting a house closer to the office, such data of the participants of the survey “Mail.ru for business”. They believe that reducing the time to get to work will lead to an increase in their labor efficiency, as well as to an increase in activity outside of work.

Abroad, the transfer of full-time employees to remote work, cooperation with freelancers and hiring talented people from other cities and countries is a common practice used by start-ups, medium-sized companies, and transnational corporations. Pioneers here were IT companies, which in the struggle for minds offer employees the most attractive conditions for them. Programmers, busy writing code, and not how to overcome traffic jams in time to get to the office by the appointed time, began to work more efficiently, Google and Facebook realized. Today, remote work is common in the vast majority of Silicon Valley companies. For example, Automattic does not even have a stationary office, and in Stack Overflow only managers go to the office, developers work remotely. However, not everything goes smoothly – changing the work schedule of employees from the usual office to the remote one requires increased control not only in the tactical, but also in the strategic aspect. 

Dream Time

A long way to the office becomes one of the causes of burnout, researchers from the University of Montreal (Canada) have found. They surveyed nearly 2,000 Quebecers between the ages of 17 and 69, focusing on means of transportation, distance covered and average travel time. The results of the study showed the presence of a direct relationship between the severity of the road and the risk of professional burnout. The critical point was 20 minutes: the more the actual time spent by a person on the road differed from this indicator, the more negative emotions people experienced in relation to work. As soon as the travel time exceeded 35 minutes, workers became skeptical and even disgusted with their place of work.

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