Over the past year, travel restrictions and regulations have been constantly changing. It has meant a lot of people have ditched their commute and started work from home instead. It’s worth looking into what impact this change in routines had on people’s lives, and what could commuting look like in the future.
The insurance company Devitt created a survey to find out more about people’s commuting habits. Over the summer, it asked 2,500 people across the UK about their attitudes and approaches to travelling for work. The average length of a commute was between 0 – 10 miles. 57% of Northern Ireland people have to travel this distance. It seems travelling to and from Belfast is pretty reasonable. Though it’s not just time that commuting takes up. It appeared that not travelling to work, people across the nation, on average, saved over £300.
During the window in time when commuting to work was allowed, it turned out those of us in Northern Ireland were pretty happy about it. Across the UK, we had the biggest increase in commuter happiness since lockdown. There was a 47% increase from pre-lockdown levels. Even though many people benefited by saving money and time working from home, there is something to be said for getting out of the house and being at work. Going forward, it seems likely that there will be a hybrid between home and office working.
However, despite the fact nearly half of the people here were happy to start travelling back to work, doesn’t mean it came without drawbacks. Just over 31% of the Northern Irish said they felt stressed during their commute. Travelling to and work can negatively impact your physical and mental health, even before we were living in a pandemic. This year has made many people question their work-life balance. They may need to assess how much time and money it’s costing them, and how the journey is impacting other areas of their life.
It’s impossible to predict when the normalcy will resume. However, once people are allowed to start commuting again – will their habits change? 76% of survey correspondents who had previously used public transport wanted to change to a different method. We’ve already seen people adapt to different methods of commuting. We could see a rise in walking or cycling. Public transport might have to change to take on even more safety protocols. Only time can tell.
Commuting was once considered a daily part of life, whereas this year has shown us this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. For now, all we can do is play our part to keep one another safe. How do you feel about travelling for work in the future?